This Seemingly Lovely Pop Song Is Winning Big at Cannes for Hiding a Terrible Secret

Circus Grey Peru's stunning work with Diego Dibos

CANNES, France—A fascinating, disturbing campaign from Circus Grey Peru has swept gold Lions across three categories here in Cannes this week, and has a good shot at the Grand Prix for Good, by hacking pop music to deliver a bracing message about violence.

The agency, on behalf of a nonprofit called Vida Mujer, partnered with Peruvian pop star Diego Dibos to create a new pop song, which became an instant hit. But all was not what it seemed, as the public would find out a few weeks later.

Watch the case study here before reading on:

In the last four years, 482 women in Peru have been killed by their partners, says Circus Grey creative director Charlie Tolmos.

“In most cases, a chilling pattern appears: Perpetrators apologize with sweet, loving messages,” he says. “The brief was to do something big that shows women it is absolutely dangerous to give a second chance to an abuser. The main objective was to start a conversation about this problem and to explain people that behind beautiful words there are sometimes ugly intentions.”

A pop song is such an unexpected medium for such a message, and it’s no surprise that the work won a gold Lion on Wednesday in the Entertainment for Music Lions category. It also picked up two more golds this week, in the regular Entertainment Lions and in the Cyber Lions.

The campaign used other media in inspired ways, too, including Dibos’ own social media accounts, where the song—and the reveal—were both shared widely.

“When the song became famous and was shared by a lot of people, he used all of his social media to create a big bang,” says Tolmos. “He told the truth about the song to society and started a nationwide discussion that became huge in the country.”