Cannes Grand Prix in Publishing Goes to a Newspaper That Boldly Printed Nothing at All

Lebanese publisher An-Nahar's 'Blank Edition' confronted a stalled government

The Grand Prix in Print and Publishing went to a newspaper. Impact BBDO

CANNES, France—The Grand Prix in this year’s Print and Publishing category was awarded to a blank piece of paper, albeit one that created an international conversation. The award was given to Impact BBDO Dubai, which redesigned An-Nahar, a newspaper in Lebanon, to feature a blank front page. The attention-grabbing white space represented civic conversation grinding to a halt after elected officials failed to form a government for months on end.

“It was a perfect demonstration that print creativity can do a lot,” said Olivier Altmann, jury president and co-founder of agency Altmann + Pacreau.

The bold stunt, called “The Blank Edition,” was covered in more than 100 publications internationally, and editor in chief Nayla Tueni held a press conference explaining the blank front page and calling on Lebanese citizens to use the space to send a message to the government.

“To think that it was a piece of paper that transformed everything, that was what was so powerful,” said Ana Balarin, partner at agency Mother London and member of the Print and Publishing jury. “The irony is not lost on us that we’re awarding the Grand Prix to a blank piece of paper.”

Last year, the Grand Prix in Print and Publishing was awarded to Budweiser’s “Tagwords” print campaign, which used cryptic terms to intrigue viewers into searching for the terms, which led them to unlicensed photos of rockstars drinking Budweiser.

Two U.S. campaigns won gold Lions in the category. One was David Miami’s “Try Not to Hear This” series of ads for Coca-Cola, which created a form of synesthesia by showing images that conveyed specific sounds:

The other U.S. gold Lion winner was FCB Chicago’s Gun Violence History Book for the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence:

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@SaraJerde Sara Jerde is publishing editor at Adweek, where she covers traditional and digital publishers’ business models. She also oversees political coverage ahead of the 2020 election.