Saudi Arabia wins its first-ever Cannes Lions Grand Prix thanks to Wunderman Thompson's innovative thinking
Posted on 2023 Jun,25  | By ArabAd's staff

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There were some great achievements for the Middle East ad industry at the 70th edition of the Cannes Lions 2023. The region has managed to secure a total of 23 awards including 2 Grand Prix, 2 Gold, 6 Silver, and 13 Bronze metals. 

The top agency Middle East region at Cannes 2023 is FP7 McCann Dubai, UAE which brought back nine Lions, the highest number of awards among any Middle East agency. Other agencies that came back home with their share of Lions are Publicis Groupe Middle East (Leo burnett Beirut/Dubai and Saatchi & Saatchi Dubai) who won one Gold for ABAAD's 'Dirty Laundry' cmapaign, 3 Silver and 3 Bronze Lion awards.

Also Havas ME (one Bronze for adidas superstar Ravi) and And Us (3 Lions) have seen their work recognised.

IMPACT BBDO has been named the MENA Network of the Year., having scooped a Grand Prix Print & Publishing.  

Saudi Arabia wins its first-ever Grand Prix earned by Wunderman Thompson, Riyadh in Creative Commerce

The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity has announced that a total of 26,992 entries, an increase of 6% from 2022, have been received into the 2023 Awards.

So it is no mean feat to see entrants from Saudi Arabia, Peru, Armenia, Nigeria, Kenya make history by taking home the first-ever Lion for their country.

Simon Cook, CEO, LIONS, said, “It’s inspiring to see new countries enter and win Lions to raise the creative bar on the global stage. Saudi Arabia won its first Grand Prix in Creative Commerce, and there were also wins for Germany, Mexico, Japan and China in the Creative Business Transformation Lions for the first time. Congratulations to all of our Lion winners, and those shortlisted, who are driving progress for people, businesses and society." 


The Grand Prix announced at the 70th edition of Cannes Lions International Festival for Creativity are:

The Grand Prix Print & Publishing Lion went to ‘Newspapers Inside The Newspaper Edition’ by Impact BBDO, Dubai, for AnNahar Newspaper. The work honours freedom of speech in Lebanon and the crisis that affected the publishing industry, using the newspaper’s daily edition to revive publications that had been shut down due to political failure and pressure. 

In the Creative Commerce Lions, honouring the innovative and creative approach to online and offline commerce, payment solutions and transactional journeys, the Grand Prix went to ‘The Subconscious Order’, for HungerStation, by Wunderman Thompson, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, a food delivery service that allows users to order food online by harnessing the power of their subconscious mind.

Creative Commerce Lions Jury President, Nancy Crimi-Lamanna, Chief Creative Officer, FCB, Canada, added, “Some work brilliantly showed us what is possible today in creative commerce, but this idea showed us what is possible tomorrow. It sets a new standard for commerce and shows the way forward in how brands can remove pain points in a moment of purchase while adding meaningful value to it. We hope that this work shows what can happen when brands get the value exchange right for their customers and use fresh creativity to drive engagement.”

The Lions Health and United Nations Foundation Grand Prix for Good went to ‘Working with Cancer’ for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK), by La Foundation Publicis Chicago / Publicis Conseil Paris / Le Truc New York / Digitas New York / Saatchi & Saatchi Health, New York / Publicis Groupe UK, London. 

The Pharma Grand Prix was awarded to ‘Scrolling Therapy’ for Eurofarma by Dentsu Creative Buenos Aires / Dentsu Creative New York / Dentsu Creative Chicago. 

The Grand Prix Outdoor went to ‘A British Original’ by Uncommon Creative Studio, London for British Airways. The work explores the multitude of reasons people travel by responding to the box-ticking question ‘What is the purpose of your visit?’ With witty responses across 500 print, digital and outdoor executions, the work was delivered with impressive scale. 

The Creative B2B Grand Prix went to ‘Eart4’, for B3 Stock Exchange & United Nations Global Compact, by AlmapBBDO, São Paulo. This work focused on a B2B strategy that targeted and reached +20,000 business leaders, encouraging them to invest in Earth, by aligning their companies with the UN's long-term sustainability goals.

The Creative Data Lions Grand Prix was awarded to ‘The Artois Probability’, for Stella Artois, by GUT, Buenos Aires, Argentina. The work showcases an innovative use of creative data by intertwining historical knowledge, art, and technology, highlighting Stella Artois' heritage, raising brand awareness, and presenting an opportunity for outdoor installations while offering a unique experience for audiences.

The Direct Grand Prix, celebrating targeted and response-driven creativity, was awarded to ‘Runner 321’, for adidas, by FCB Toronto, Canada. To solve the problem that people with Down syndrome don’t see themselves represented in sport, even though they stand to reap significant benefits from participation in exercise, this work brings inclusivity to the world’s most accessible sport, running, and succeeded in starting a social movement with demonstrable results.

The Media Grand Prix was presented to ‘#Turnyourback’, for Dove, by Ogilvy, London / DAVID, Madrid. This influencer-led piece of work underpins Dove’s #NoDigitalDistortion mission by encouraging people to turn their back on TikTok’s Bold Glamour filter.

The Grand Prix PR Lions, which honour strategic and creative communication - work with storytelling at its core, which establishes, protects and enhances reputation and business, went to ‘Self Love Bouquet’, for DoorDash by GUT, Los Angeles, USA.  This work tapped into the 72% of US adults that believe self-pleasuring is a form of “therapy”, and destigmatised female self-pleasure using the most iconic Valentine’s gift:  a bouquet of red roses. It showed consumers that DoorDash could be a go-to destination for same-day flower delivery on Valentine's Day by reaching 200MM earned media impressions and 500k social impressions. 

The Social & Influencer Lions Grand Prix, was presented to ‘Flipvertising’, for Samsung, by CHEP Network, Sydney, Australia. To launch Samsung’s flagship smartphone, the brand flipped the idea of ad targeting to create a competition for Australian GenZers to win a flagship Galaxy Z Flip 4 phone, boosting brand sales by 34%.

The Brand Experience & Activation Lions Grand Prix, honouring creative, comprehensive brand building through experience design, activation, immersive, retail and 360° customer engagement,  was awarded to ‘FIFA 23 X TED LASSO’, for EA Sports & Apple, by Apple, Cupertino / EA Sports, Redwood City.

The Innovation Lions Grand Prix, celebrating ground-breaking innovation, technology and problem solving, went to ‘MouthPad^’, for Augmental, by Wunderman Thompson, Lima / Augmental, San Francisco. This innovative tongue-controlled device opens up a new way for people with disabilities to interact with the w

In the Mobile Lions, celebrating device-driven creativity, from 348 entries received 12 Lions were awarded by the Jury: 2 Gold, 3 Silver and 6 Bronze.The Grand Prix went to ‘World Cup Delivery’, for PedidosYa, by GUT, Buenos Aires. The work reached football-mad Argentinians by using real time data to track the flight that brought the World Cup Trophy 2022 back to Argentina, and became the #1 trending topic. 

Honouring the measurable impact of creative work, the Creative Effectiveness Grand Prix went to ‘Shah Rukh Khan-My-Ad’, for Mondelez, by Ogilvy, Mumbai, India. The work lent a hand to small businesses struggling during the pandemic with a data-driven campaign using machine learning to create advertisements for thousands of local businesses, as well as its product, Cadbury Celebrations, and boosted sales as a result.

In the Creative Strategy Lions, the Grand Prix went to ‘Renault - Plug-Inn’, for Renault, by Publicis Conseil, Paris, a peer-to-peer app that connects electric car drivers to home charger owners. Like an Airbnb for charging spots, this new business model solves the problem of driving long distances through remote places with zero charging stations.

In the Creative Business Transformation Lions, which honour the creativity that drives businesses forward, the Grand Prix was awarded to ‘ADLaM - an Alphabet to Preserve a Culture’ for Microsoft, by McCann, New York.

In the Film Lions, celebrating the creativity of the moving image, the Jury chose to award two Grands Prix: ‘Relax, it's iPhone – R.I.P. Leon’, for Apple, by Apple, Cupertino, USA; and ‘The Last Photo’, for ITV X CALM, by adam&eveDDB, London, United Kingdom. 

Film Lions Jury President, Bruno Bertelli, Global CEO of Le Pub, Global Chief Creative Officer of Publicis Worldwide, Chief Creative Officer of Publicis Groupe Italy, Publicis Worldwide, Global, said, “The first Grand Prix is awarded to the best piece of work in the TV/Cinema section. This winner is a 30-second advertisement that stands out for its sharpness, focused approach, and clever twist. In this case, we aimed to acknowledge simplicity and high-quality crafting. The second Grand Prix, awarded in the sections that cover online films and other formats,  is an incredibly bold idea that required overcoming numerous challenges to execute. Despite this, it remains a straightforward piece of work.” 

Glass: The Lion for Change Grand Prix, which honours culture-shifting creativity, was awarded to ‘Knock Knock’, for the Korean National Police Agency, by Cheil Worldwide, Seoul, South Korea. Inspired by Morse code, the work offers a solution that allows victims of domestic violence to alert the police without saying a word. After dialling 112, they simply tap any number twice, and a link is sent to them.

The Sustainable Development Goals Lions Grand Prix, which celebrate creative problem solving, solutions or other initiatives that harness creativity and seek to positively impact the world, went to ‘Where To Settle’, for Mastercard, by McCann Poland, a platform that enables Ukrainian refugees to check the cost of living and income opportunities in selected cities and towns in Poland. 

In The Dan Wieden Titanium Lions, honouring provocative, boundary-busting, envy-inspiring work that marks a new direction for the industry,  the Grand Prix went to ‘The First Digital Nation’, for The Government Of Tuvalu, by The Monkeys, Part of Accenture Song, Sydney, Australia. 

The Cannes Lions Grand Prix for Good recognises and celebrates the use of creativity to positively impact not only businesses and brands, but also the world at large. The Jury chose to award this year’s Grand Prix for Good to ‘Anne De Gaulle’, For Fondation Anne De Gaulle Association, by Havas Paris, France. 

During the final Awards Show, Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) was awarded as Creative Marketer of the Year; Susan Hoffman, Chief Creative Officer of Wieden+Kennedy was honoured with the Lion of St. Mark; and the Cannes LionHeart was accepted by Tyler LaMotte, Marketing Director, EMEA, Patagonia on behalf of Founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard. The inaugural Creative Maker of the Year award was presented to legendary filmmaker, screenwriter, actor and producer, Spike Lee.



The following Special Awards were also announced:


Creative Company of the Year

  1. Omnicom
  2. WPP
  3. Interpublic Group 


Network of the Year

  1. DDB Worldwide
  2. Ogilvy
  3. BBDO Worldwide


Independent Network of the Year

  1. GUT
  2. Wieden+Kennedy
  3. Rethink


Agency of the Year

  1. GUT, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  2. Publicis Conseil, Paris, France
  3. adam&eveDDB, London, United Kingdom


Independent Agency of the Year

  1. GUT, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  2. Rethink, Toronto, Canada
  3. Wieden+Kennedy, Portland, USA


Palme d'Or

  1. Somesuch, USA
  2. SMUGGLER, United Kingdom
  3. Biscuit Filmworks, USA
  4. Spoon., Japan
  5. Rebolucion, Mexico


Creative Brand of the Year

  1. Apple
  2. Dove
  3. Heineken


Agency of the Year - Classic: adam&eveDDB, London, UK

Agency of the Year - Craft: Dentsu Inc., Tokyo, Japan

Agency of the Year - Engagement: GUT, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Agency of the Year - Entertainment: Wieden+Kennedy, Portland, USA

Agency of the Year - Experience: GUT, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Agency of the Year - Good: McCann Poland, Warsaw, Poland

Agency of the Year - Strategy: Ogilvy, Mumbai, India


Independent Agency of the Year - Classic: Rethink, Toronto, Canada

Independent Agency of the Year - Craft: pgLang, Los Angeles, USA

Independent Agency of the Year - Engagement: GUT, Buenos Aires,  Argentina

Independent Agency of the Year - Entertainment: Wieden+Kennedy, Portland, USA

Independent Agency of the Year - Experience: GUT, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Independent Agency of the Year - Good: Howatson+Company, Sydney, Australia

Independent Agency of the Year - Strategy: Special, Auckland, New Zealand


Regional Network of the Year- Asia: DENTSU

Regional Network of the Year - Europe: DDB WORLDWIDE

Regional Network of the Year - MENA: BBDO WORLDWIDE

Regional Network of the Year - Latin America: GUT

Regional Network of the Year - North America: FCB

Regional Network of the Year - Pacific: BBDO WORLDWIDE

Regional Network of the Year - Sub-Saharan Africa: OGILVY


The Media Network of the Year: 



The Healthcare Network of the Year

1. FCB Health

2. Klick Health



Healthcare Agency of the Year

1. AREA 23, an IPG Health Network Company, New York, USA

2. KLICK HEALTH, Toronto, Canada

3. 21GRAMS, Part Of Real Chemistry, New York, USA