Cannes Lions Will Donate $370,000 Toward the Palau Pledge, Which Won 3 Grand Prix

Nonprofit client will receive all entry fees from Cannes' sustainability Lions

The Palau Pledge asks all visitors to sign a promise to respect and protect the island nation's resources. Palau Pledge
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The most celebrated campaign from last year’s Cannes Lions is claiming an even more valuable win from the festival: a $370,000 windfall.

The money—323,280 euro—is the total of all entry fees submitted for the awards festival’s Sustainable Development Goals Lions, or SDG Lions, which debuted in 2018 and honor marketing efforts that support the United Nations’ 17 Global Goals.

Palau Pledge, created by agency Host/Havas in Sydney, is an ambitious effort requiring all visitors to the island nation to sign an agreement, stamped into their passports, promising to respect and protect its natural resources. The campaign, which includes a wide range of marketing materials such as an animated film shown on all inbound flights to Palau, received widespread acclaim and celebrity support in 2018.

The pledge was notably successful at the Cannes Lions, where it won seven Lions, including three Grand Prix (Direct, Titanium and SDG) and a gold in Brand Experience and Activation.

Now the festival, owned by Ascential, is following through on its own pledge—to donate all SDG Lions entry fees to the nonprofit client taking top honors. Specifically, that means the money from the 898 entries in 2018 will go to the Friends of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary and the Palau Pledge Legacy Team.

“These funds are pivotal to the project continuing, and we are thrilled to be able to see the Palau Pledge grow and develop,” Palau Legacy Project co-founder Laura Clarke said in a statement. “We’ve already seen the local and global impact it can have, with Hawaii and New Zealand introducing similar pledges, and we want to do more to initiate change worldwide. A key element for us as a team is to be able to meet with leaders from countries and organizations all over the world and share the Palau Pledge philosophy.”

To that end, the money will be used to launch a new phase of the Palau Pledge, with three key components: a business accreditation program, a pledge-focussed STEM educational curriculum for school children, a global leadership initiative aimed at helping similar programs take root in other countries.

“We want to help great ideas to scale, and we’re delighted to fund the growth of the Grand Prix-winning Palau Pledge with the proceeds of the entries into the SDG Lions,” said Cannes Lions Chairman Philip Thomas. “We believe that creativity can change the world, and it’s a privilege to support this initiative and contribute to its efforts to have an even greater impact.”

"As an industry, we have the incredible power to shape conversation and behavior."
Seamus Higgins, executive creative director, Host/Havas

The project’s lead creative, Host/Havas executive creative director Seamus Higgins, said the SDG Grand Prix win and subsequent large donation from the Cannes Lions illustrate how marketers can help turn local issues into global discussions and effect tangible change.

“As an industry, we have the incredible power to shape conversation and behavior,” he said. “With this power comes the responsibility to shape a better world for future generations to inherit.”

Here’s a look back at Adweek’s conversation with Higgins about the campaign at last year’s Cannes Lions:

@griner David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."