The exhibition opened at the Art Institute of Chicago last year, and was notable for marking the first time that art-lovers in North America could see three paintings which Vincent Van Gogh made of his bedroom in the same place.
In generating consumer excitement, the Art Institute of Chicago partnered with Airbnb, the online accommodation platform, to give people the chance to stay in a life-size recreation of the Dutch artist's room – for a fee of just $10 a night.
"It's one exhibition, in one building, in one city, and yet it created a huge global conversation. And that conversation created incremental attendance of 133,000 visitors," said Jonathan Mildenhall, the President of the Creative Effectiveness jury, and Chief Marketing Officer at Airbnb. (WARC subscribers can read all the winners and entrants to the Creative Effectiveness Lions.)
Moreover, he suggested, the campaign's "fantastic, exquisite" display of creative craft drove short- and long-term revenue for the cultural institution.
"But the most important thing, for us, is it was using creativity to introduce a broader and younger demographic to the Art Institute of Chicago," Mildenhall added.
One of five Golds handed out in the category went to the Swedish Tourist Association's "The Swedish Number", which let people across the globe call a single phone number and be connected to one of the many Swedes who volunteered to take part as ambassadors for the country.
Despite having a comparatively modest budget, Mildenhall reported, this initiative "created one of the biggest conversations in marketing last year".
Elsewhere, "The McWhopper Proposal" from Burger King claimed Gold for a marketing effort which asked McDonald's, traditionally a fierce rival, to consider creating a combination of their respective iconic burgers.
The other Gold winners were "Man Boobs for Boobs" from MACMA in Argentina, Ariel's "Share the Load" campaign in India, and Bajaj Auto's "The Nation's Bike", also from India.
"Fortune really does favour the brave. All of these Gold winners were based on ideas that are genuinely innovative, and in some cases, downright risky," said Mildenhall.
A total of seven Silver Lions were awarded, with John Lewis – the British retailer and last year's winner in the Creative Effectiveness category – featuring on this list for "The Man on the Moon". John Lewis Insurance also received one of the eight Bronzes distributed in the category for "Tiny Dancer".
Lifebuoy, Unilever's soap brand, carried off two bronzes, one for the "Handle on Hygiene" campaign, and another for its "#HelpAChildReach5" initiative.
Data sourced from Cannes Lions; additional content by WARC staff