CANNES, France—VMLY&R took home the first-ever Social and Influencer Grand Prix at this year’s Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity for the “Keeping Fortnite Fresh” campaign it did for Wendy’s.
As the Fortnite craze took off around the globe last year, VMLY&R got Wendy’s in on the action after a seamless opportunity presented itself: Fortnite players had to select their allegiance to either pizza or burgers. Wendy’s took notice that Fortnite’s in-game burger establishment, Durrr Burger, stored its beef in a freezer—a major no-no at the fast food chain.
To combat the frozen beef in the game, VMLY&R created a character that looked just like Wendy herself, with red hair and pigtails (though with a bit more weaponry). Instead of playing the game as a user typically might, this character would smash burger freezers—inspiring other players to do the same.
VMLY&R started the conversation on Twitch, where it broadcasted a livestream of Wendy’s Fortnite experience. The stream ended up running for 10 hours straight with 43,500 comments, boosting Wendy’s follower count on the platform from 0 to 7,400.
“There’s so much to love about this,” said PJ Pereira, co-founder and creative chairman of Pereira O’Dell and global and jury president for Social and Influencer. “There’s the sense of a brand jumping in so quickly into a new form of social that Fortnite represents. The mischievousness of this, and the nimbleness of going there and figuring out that the character looks just like their main character.”
“There’s a clear movement happening towards creating purpose around the trends,” said Pereira. “Cannes is where trends hit their apex, but also where new trends are established.”
Winning the inaugural Gold Lions in this category are Wieden+Kennedy’s “Dream Crazy” and “Dream Crazier” for Nike; DDB Paris’s “My Life as a NPC” for Ubisoft, “Sleeping Giants – A Campaign to Defund Bigotry” from Sleeping Giants; McCann New York’s “Generation Lockdown” for March For Our Lives; and “Be a Follower” from Publicis Italy for Diesel.
Pereira said that the winners for Social and Influencer in the category’s inaugural year showcase how brands have been able to creatively hone their voice and message on social platforms, and that the medium is becoming a real player in the creative world.
“When we were looking at the work, we were very happy with how it showed the nuances and the possibilities of social,” he said. “How speed and pace matters more, how purpose matters more, how brands are really managing to develop a very clear sense of voice in a space that used to be that just used to a community manager doing something on his own. Now, there’s a much bigger concern about developing that voice.”