The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival. —Aristotle
Awareness is a state of consciousness, the point at which we realize something exists and are able to understand that existence, at least, in part. Sometimes, awareness has to be carefully cultivated. Physics, for example, holds various levels of awareness, the deepest of which only come with intense learning. Other matters, however, are more straightforward, perhaps even blunt. All one needs to know in order to respond appropriately can be said in a matter of seconds. Fire, for example, is hot. Even a baby understands after the briefest experience that fire is hot.
Every day, we develop more awareness. Perhaps we see a new store or read a new book. Maybe we have a conversation with a friend. Everything we do has the potential to increase our awareness. Even watching commercials.
Each year, at Cannes, the best advertising campaigns are presented and given awards based upon the quality of work. Some do an amazing job of selling a product. Others blaze new trails in technological innovation. What always strikes the hardest, though, are those that create awareness. These are the ads that make you stop and think, and give you information that leads you to act, become involved, and begin conversations.
Of this year’s winners in the film and film craft categories, four gold winners did an amazing job at creating awareness. I want to share those with you. Watch each one and let them change you.
Make Love, Not Scars
Acid. The word immediately raises warnings of danger for most teens and adults. While there are many legitimate uses for acid, however, one of the most frequent is as a weapon of personal destruction. We don’t see as many acid attacks in the United States. Awareness is low because it is usually treated as a felony assault and handled through local justice systems. Elsewhere in the world, however, acid attacks are devastating. In countries were various forms of acid are sold openly and are easily obtainable, acid attacks are a common form of personal vendetta. Most of the victims are women. Many victims are under the age of 18.
Ogilvy & Mather Mumbai created the following piece to raise awareness of this horrible issue. Incidents involving acid attacks are growing, but governments are doing little to stop them. The piece is short. Please watch. If you are inclined to investigate further, please visit Acid Survivors Foundation.
For many gay people, coming out to one’s family and friends is one of the most frightening experiences of their lives. One can never be quite certain how people might respond. Will they be accepting? Will they be angry? Will this be the end of relationships?
If one is captain of the Wales national rugby team, that fear is overwhelming. Rugby is a tough sport, one of those games allegedly created for and played by only the manliest of men. Gareth Thomas faced that fear. What he discovered, however, was that he was part of a team that had his back, no matter what anyone said. With millions of fans, there were inevitably some who didn’t understand. Still, the team supported Gareth and they continued to win games.
Guinness sponsored the award-winning film piece developed by AMV BBDO London and produced by Stink London. There’s no mention of beer here, though. No one goes out and has a pint at the end. Instead, the emphasis is on the power of a team, supporting those whose lifestyles are often vilified and misunderstood. Everyone who comes out as gay, lesbian, bi, or transgender needs a team behind them. Be part of the team. The version that won the award is below. You can watch Gareth’s full story here.
Censorship on social media is severe. Most apps assume that anything on your computer or especially on your phone is accessible to minors. Argue all you want, I know all too well how difficult it is to keep sensitive materials away from little hands and prying eyes. Once children reach a certain age, the more one tries to deter them the more determined they are to see what’s there.
However, that censorship becomes a complete pain in the ass for organizations trying to raise awareness for things such as, oh, let’s say breast cancer. Talking about breast cancer becomes exceptionally difficult when one can’t show real breasts. How does an organization teach women how to check for lumps, an extremely important form of early detection, if they can’t show breasts?
Some brilliant minds at the David agency in Buenos Aires came up with a creative way to address those problems for an Argentinian awareness and support organization, MACMA. The spot comes with a bit of humor but is also extremely informative. Viewers are then encouraged to make their own video. If you care to do so, let me know. We’ll be happy to help.
Our final piece hits really, really close to home. Until I had a daughter of my own, I didn’t think much about the vocabulary I used and tolerated from others. I didn’t give as much thought to what might be harmful. In watching and helping Tippy grow, I’ve learned that even the most innocuous, unintentional things we do and say truly matter.
We are moderately aware to the sensitive nature of body image. However, this piece developed for Care, Norway, raises awareness to a whole new level by putting it in terms that are inescapable. Just imagine if your unborn daughter could write you a letter. This short film is one of the most moving pieces I’ve ever encountered.
Conceptual credit goes to ad agency Schjaerven Reklamebyrå and production company Tangrystan, both of Oslo. I dare you to watch this film and not be moved. If you’re a daddy, or about to become one, I dare you to not cry.
The majority of ads are not all that serious. The majority of ads aren’t worth our time. These four, though, hit us with an awareness we need. There is no escape. You have now been enlightened. Go, enlighten others.