By Webb Wright, NY Reporter

June 21, 2022 | 2 min read

The campaign, spearheaded by Havas Middle East, was designed to make women of all backgrounds and body types feel more comfortable and confident in the water.

Adidas’ 'Liquid Billboard' campaign, advertising the brand’s inclusive swimwear collection and developed in partnership with Havas Middle East, was awarded the Outdoor Grand Prix yesterday at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

“Globally, 32% of women don’t feel comfortable swimming in public,” claims the text from the opening scenes of a video spot for the campaign “In the Middle East it’s almost 3 times higher.” The 'Liquid Billboard' campaign, in response, was aimed at “encouraging women of all shapes, ethnicities, religions and abilities” to swim, with confidence, in a very public setting.

The video then transitions to a young woman wearing an Adidas swimsuit with attached hijab. “When I was growing up, I never saw women that looked like me, wearing the hijab, and I feel like that hindered my ability to kind of dream.”

The campaign was centered on an an experiential activation: a massive tank of water erected on a popular beach in Dubai. One of the sides of the square tank was dominated by a transparent screen, made of reinforced acrylic; from the inside, swimmers could look out to the world beyond, while dry beachgoers could gaze into the water.

Using underwater cameras, “every swim was projected live on the country’s largest digital display.” Personalized posters were also printed and handed out to each swimmer.

The front of the “swimmable billboard” was emblazoned with the words “Beyond the surface,” intimating the brand’s message that physical appearance counts for nothing when you’re in the water. This is a message that goes against the grain of traditional swimwear advertising, which has tended to put supermodels and athletes front-and-center.

The Cannes Lions festival, after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, is now in full swing, and will run through June 24.

Check out all the big winners at Cannes this year.

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