This Cannes Glass Lion Grand Prix Winner Bought a Porn Magazine in Poland to Shut It Down

'The Last Ever Issue' walks away victorious in more ways than one

The final issue of a Polish adult magazine won the Glass Lion at Cannes.
Wavemaker

CANNES, France—Since it was founded in 2015, the Cannes Glass Lion has not only seen some outstanding work but has continued to gain momentum and a reputation as one of the most sought-after prizes at the Cannes Lions.

Past Grand Prix winners have tackled serious topics including stigmas around menstruation, gender identification and pay equality. On this year’s shortlist, those issues and others—including body hair, girls and participation in sports, more realistic imagery in advertising, misperceptions around the Miss America pageant and women’s contributions to history—have continued to expand the scope of the brand-led conversation.

While each project merited inclusion, the jury, led by Jaime Robinson, Joan’s co-founder and chief creative officer, chose “The Last Ever Issue,” created for Gazeta.pl, Mastercard and BNP Paribas by VMLY&R Poland for its audacious success in closing down Poland’s longest-running erotic magazine.

In December 2018, Twój Weekend, the most popular porn title, was put up for sale. Gazeta.pl, the country’s leading newspaper, along with VMLY&R and Wavemaker, purchased the magazine with the express intent of closing it down for good.

Coinciding with International Women’s Day this year, the collective, with brand support, published one last issue. But instead of objectification of women, the magazine raised critical cultural matters in the country including sexual education (there is no formal sex education in Poland), equal rights, gender representation and sexism to promote more progressive narratives of femininity.

“When we were deliberating, one of the very first things we did was look at the definition of [the category] and what we’re asked to look for,” noted Robinson. “There was a little phrase in there which was ‘culture-shifting creativity,’ and it became our touchstone to figure out what it was that we were going to award. When I look at this Grand Prix, I see culture-shifting creativity in spades.”

Additionally, the power in the execution of the campaign is that it utilized and hacked an existing system of thinking and education—one that, for generations, proved to be destructive to sexual education for men in Poland—and squarely took control of the narrative. Notably, “The Last Ever Issue” was the title’s highest seller in a decade.

“It takes an object of degradation, and it turns it into something beautiful and then says goodbye to it forever,” said Robinson.

Other winners in the category included two from the U.K. and one each from the U.S., Denmark, Netherlands, Brazil and Canada. Noting the relatively even split among nations, Robinson pointed out that gender-equality action continues to grow.

“I think that this movement is at different stages in different places around the globe and yet we saw incredible Lion-winning work from India, from Poland, from Latin America [and elsewhere],” she said. “And I think it gives me an enormous amount of hope because we’ve got to use our creativity to change a conversation.”

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