Carrefour, the French retailer, has won the Grand Prix in the Creative Effectiveness category at the 2019 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, with a biodiversity campaign that made an impact well beyond its stores.

The company’s Black Supermarket campaign, created by agency Marcel, took aim at the “Official Catalogue of Authorised Species” that was in operation in the European Union (EU) in late 2017.

As a consequence of these rules, only 3% of cereals, vegetables and fruits seed varieties were made available to consumers, while the remaining 97% of seed variants were not.

Carrefour decided to sell these illegal offerings, reflecting a belief that while the regulations were first introduced for safety reasons, they had since been hijacked by agro-chemical lobbying groups, with harmful effects for biodiversity.

A range of “forbidden” fruit and vegetables – think Camus artichokes from Léon, Glas Ruz artichokes, half-length Cléder shallots – were sold in approximately 40 stores in the Paris and Brittany areas.

The brand’s campaign involved print and film content, and also utilised “illegal black markets” in brick-and-mortar branches to highlight its efforts to consumers.

A related petition from Carrefour attracted 85,000 signatures, and the initiative received considerable media coverage. And, in April 2018, a new law was passed that loosened the restrictions on farmers.

“This case, this piece of work, this idea, the creative effectiveness and the impact that this created was, dare I say it, a no-brainer Grand Prix [winner],” said John Seifert, worldwide chief executive at Ogilvy, and chair of the Creative Effectiveness jury. (WARC subscribers can read all the Creative Effectiveness winners and entrants here.)

“It’s one of most compelling cases we read, word for word, end to end. And these are very hard cases to write. It’s not always easy to get the facts, obviously. But even if you get the facts, you still have to tell a story that’s compelling around attribution and how to piece this together.”

The number of entries to the Creative Effectiveness category stood at 227 this year, up from 169 in 2018. In all, the shortlist came in at 23 papers, and 12 case studies ultimately received a Cannes Lions award.

Procter & Gamble was one of three Gold winners for Creative Effectiveness, claiming this honour for It’s a Tide Ad, a Super Bowl campaign that parodied a wide range of spots in championing its detergent. The entering agency was Saatchi & Saatchi.

Microsoft, the tech giant, also took a Gold for The Fanchise Model, a UK-based campaign that allowed Xbox gaming fans to vote for their favourite customised controllers, driving consumer interest and sales. McCann London was the entering agency.

The final Gold went to Noblex, a TV manufacturer in Argentina, which ran a 72-hour online promotion offering consumers in the country a full refund on its 4K TVs if the national football team failed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup. It sold 3,000 TV sets off the back of this and a second run of 2,000 sets were made available ahead of Argentina’s decisive qualifier with Ecuador which the CEO live-tweeted. David was the agency on the campaign.

“Our charge is not evaluating creativity in its purest sense, because every entry that we reviewed had already achieved accomplishment in creativity,” said Seifert.

“Ours was: can we find the linkages to market impact that go directly to creative effectiveness? So it’s a little bit of a Sherlock Holmes test: can you find all the examples that build that case?”

Sourced from WARC