The 2014 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity may be finished for another year, but there’s still a lot to be learned from last week's events on (and off) the Croisette. And, of all the Grands Prix to be handed out in 2014, we at Warc kept an especially close eye on the Creative Effectiveness category. Open only to campaigns that won Lions the previous year, the Creative Effectiveness Lions aim to reward campaigns that can demonstrate strong business results over time – as well as a great strategic insight and creative execution.

You may have read, on Warc or elsewhere, that this year’s Grand Prix was taken by ‘Guilt Trips’, a humourous campaign by McCann Melbourne for one of the city’s public transport providers. Y&R CEO David Sable, the Creative Effectiveness jury’s president, had high praise for the case’s clear “through line” from strategic insight to execution to results. “If I was teaching an ad class anywhere in the world, I would use ‘Guilt Trips’ as an example of what to do – and they’d get the idea immediately,” he told reporters in Cannes. And, when I had the chance to sit down with him last week, Pat Baron, McCann’s ECD, was happy to share the story behind ‘Guilt Trips’.

What was the big strategic insight behind the campaign?

The challenge for us was to get young people to get on a train in the city and go back to their country town. But, really, they want to hang in the city with their friends, go out to the pub, do anything but go back and see mum and dad! So we decided to flip what had been done in the past. For a long time, V/Line, our client, had told people that ‘you can get on a train and you can go back to the country’. But what if we got mothers to do that work for us? That was the idea.

Guilt is a very powerful tool. And so we used humour – and it worked!

Why do you think the campaign won the Grand Prix?

It was completely integrated. It was an idea that created a product. We created a ticket – and the ticket itself became the advertising. Then the advertising was spread through people. They developed our message. They were the ones who thought of the headlines.

But I also think that all of the best ideas are incredibly simple. And when you think of a “guilt trip” for a train line – it’s instant. People instantly get it. And that’s important.

And, as we were talking about before, the importance of humour. This type of humour was universal, easy to get, and that’s why it worked.

What was the client’s role in all this?

They participated in the creation of this idea in every way – because we had to create a new ticketing system. In order for the campaign to work, we had to allow people to go online, send someone a ‘Guilt Trip’ and then for that to become a ticket. So V/Line were instrumental. They were so passionate about it, they supported us throughout.

What’s it like to win at Cannes?

It’s always amazing to see the best work in the world. When you walk into an environment where people have so much passion for what they do – there’s so much talent – and night after night you see this incredible work in front of you. So when you see your work get awarded, you only feel humble. Because with the whole process of entering and judging, a lot can happen. So whenever you get a Lion – of any kind – or even a shortlist, you feel proud of the work you’ve done and the team who have participated, from planners to clients.

What’s the importance of the Creative Effectiveness Lions?

This particular Lion is the most importance for us as an agency. Creativity that doesn’t work is not what we’re about. Creativity that works is what we’re about as an agency.