10 Campaigns That Showed Off McCann’s Creative Chops in 2019

Standout work from Adweek's 2019 Global Agency of the Year

Overhead shot of a little girl using microsoft
McCann recently released its holiday campaign for Microsoft, which features a little girl attempting to talk to reindeer. Microsoft
Headshot of Minda Smiley

“Brand purpose” was 2018’s Marketing Word of the Year according to the Association of National Advertisers, highlighting the industry-crossing trend of imbuing brands with meaning that goes beyond selling products or services.

Brands like Patagonia are almost in inextricably linked with their purpose; others, like Pepsi, have struggled to relay theirs. Regardless, brands are increasingly looking to agencies to help them find—or at least better communicate—their purpose, and McCann Worldgroup is leading the way on this kind of work.

From Shanghai to Tel Aviv to New York, Adweek’s Global Agency of the Year proved its international prowess more than ever this year with work that was both purpose-driven and creatively interesting. It’s this combination that’s quickly becoming McCann’s bread and butter, and is evident throughout work for some of the agency’s biggest clients, including Mastercard and L’Oréal.

Below, take a look back at some of McCann’s work from the year that best exemplifies how it’s helping brands stand out and take a stand.

March For Our Lives | Generation Lockdown

Office: McCann New York

In one of the most haunting PSAs of the year, a child named Kayleigh finds herself explaining to a group of adults how to survive a mass shooting. In a calm, almost matter-of-fact tone, Kayleigh—who is referred to as an “expert” on the topic during a workplace meeting—gives the adults tips on how to avoid an active shooter. The spot, which supports background check legislation, points to a study that found that 95% of public schools practice lockdown drills.

The PSA, which won the Cannes Lions Grand Prix for Good this year, was created for March For Our Lives, the student-led advocacy organization that formed following the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

The Non-Issue | L’Oréal

Offices: McCann London and Paris

This spring, McCann’s Paris and London offices orchestrated a tie-up between L’Oréal and British Vogue to call out ageism in the beauty industry. In a special edition of the magazine dubbed the Non-Issue, women age 50 and over including Jane Fonda and Helen Mirren graced its pages to make the point that, in 2019, age should no longer be a factor in women’s hiring in the beauty and fashion industries—and beyond.

“Ageism remains an often overlooked form of discrimination, unconsciously accepted by so many in everyday life,” said Charlotte Franceries, beauty team president at McCann Paris, when the issue came out. “This is why we felt the world’s leading beauty brand, L’Oreal Paris, and iconic British Vogue were the perfect platforms to help turn age into a non-issue. It’s time we all awoke from the inertia of everyday ageism.”

ThisAbles | Ikea

Office: McCann Tel Aviv

Ikea’s ThisAbles, a range of products that make it easier for people with disabilities to use the retailer’s furniture, was created with help from a copywriter in McCann’s Tel Aviv office who has cerebral palsy. The add-ons, which can only be found in select stores but are available worldwide via 3D printing, have been awarded at Cannes Lions, the Golden Drum Festival and the Epica Awards.

As a company that prides itself on democratic design, Ikea partnered with nonprofits Milbat and Access Israel—both of which specialize in creating solutions for populations with special needs and disabilities—to design the line of products.

Half Full | Coca-Cola

Office: McCann Romania

To try and inject some positivity into the Romanian news cycle, Coca-Cola created “half full” versions of its bottles, each complete with a snippet of good news about the country. For instance, one bottle read: “1 in 4 Romanians working in IT is a woman (2nd place in the EU).” According to McCann Romania, the stats were chosen by a team of journalists and PR people. The bottles were handed out at a Coca-Cola “newsstand,” and people could also create their own custom labels via a Facebook chatbot.

Microsoft | Changing the Game

Office: McCann New York

McCann New York’s 2019 Super Bowl spot for Microsoft showcased the company’s Xbox Adaptive Controller, a device that makes it easier for people with disabilities to play video games. The campaign stars a young gamer named Owen, who was born with Escobar syndrome, along with several other children with disabilities who talk about how the product makes it easier for them to play their favorite games with their friends.

The campaign has won a number of awards this year, including the Grand Prix for Brand Experience and Activation at Cannes Lions. The device also won a Black Pencil at this year’s D&AD Awards.

Purina | Street Vet

Office: McCann Paris

In partnership with McCann Paris, Purina created a billboard that dogs can pee on to get a quick health screening. If potential signs of illness are detected, such as diabetes or a urinary infection, the electronic sign suggests the appropriate Purina product and encourages owners to take their pup to the vet. The billboard, which took nearly two years to pull off, was brought to life with help from engineers and a veterinary clinic. According to McCann Paris, the campaign’s technology was created to reinforce the importance of regular health checks for pets.

Breath of Life | GlaxoSmithKline

Office: McCann Health Shanghai

According to McCann Health Shanghai, many cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are not correctly diagnosed in China. To combat this, the agency created an app for GlaxoSmithKline that lets users breathe into their phones to test their lung health.

Once the test is done, an algorithm either determines whether the person is healthy or recommends visiting a healthcare professional. To make the app more enticing for users, McCann incorporated elements of Chinese art into the self-testing tool, which creates a blowing-ink painting that they can share on social media.

Verizon | The Team That Wouldn’t Be Here 

Office: McCann New York

For this year’s Super Bowl, Verizon once again honored first responders with a campaign that showcased NFL players (and a coach) who, at one point in their lives, had survived serious accidents or natural disasters.

In one of the spots, L.A. Chargers coach Anthony Lynn, who was a hit by a car in 2005, is reunited with three of the first responders who helped save his life. In addition to the brand’s Super Bowl campaign, Verizon worked with director Peter Berg on a series of 60-second vignettes, each telling the story of an NFL player who was helped by a first responder.

Mastercard | True Name

Office: McCann New York

During Pride Month this year, Mastercard unveiled “True Name,” a credit or debit card that gives transgender and non-binary people the option to use the names they go by—not the ones given to them at birth—without having to legally change their name.

“We are allies of the LGBTQIA+ community, which means if we see a need or if this community is not being served in the most inclusive way, we want to be a force for change to help address and alleviate unnecessary pain points,” said Randall Tucker, chief diversity and inclusion officer for Mastercard, when “True Name” was unveiled.

Microsoft | Lucy & The Reindeer

Office: McCann New York

Last month, Microsoft unveiled its holiday campaign for this year, which features a little girl whose curiosity is piqued when she sees her mom using the company’s translating technology to talk to colleagues in Japan. Inspired by the conversation, she decides to use it to talk to the reindeer outside of her house in hopes of getting some answers to her burning questions about Christmas, like “What does Santa do in the summer?” The spot debuted during this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

@Minda_Smiley minda.smiley@adweek.com Minda Smiley is an agencies reporter at Adweek.