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By Audrey Kemp | LA reporter

June 22, 2022 | 3 min read

Penguin Books and Foote, Cone & Belding (FCB) Lisbon commissioned artists to create something new and beautiful out of past symbols of repression. The result was a powerful patchwork of freedom that scored Portugal its first-ever Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

Out of 1,058 entries and 38 Lions, FCB Lisbon has procured the Design Lions Grand Prix at Cannes Lions for its campaign ‘Portuguese (Re)Constitution,’ in partnership with Penguin Books.

‘Portuguese (Re)Constitution’ reclaims the blue pencil, which was once used to censor artists. For 48 years, the country’s people lived under Marcello Caetano’s fascist regime, which saw thousands tortured and killed.

To educate younger generations, FCB Lisbon and Penguin Books equipped contemporary artists with blue pencils and a copy of the fascist constitution. Their task? To employ a technique called 'black-out poetry' to create something new and beautiful by selecting words from the oppressive text and blocking out the rest with rich illustrations.

Page after page, words were recontextualized amid images ranging from a human heart embraced by two hands to objects that echo Portugal’s erstwhile military regime, like combat boots and guns. By the end, the works were collected into a book — “a timeless masterpiece that celebrates freedom of speech,” as the campaign puts it.

“This year’s Grand Prix in Design shows the power of a simple idea — freedom, and the use of the most primitive medium to execute it — a pencil,” Design Lions jury president Lisa Smith said in a statement. “The symbolism of defacing a fascist constitution with poems using words selected from the historic document and illustrations covering the remaining ones was not only the highest form of craft and execution but sending a beautiful message of freedom of speech that many children in Portuguese schools will go on to learn for years to come.”

The ‘Portuguese (Re)Constitution’ was launched on the anniversary of the Carnation Revolution, the day that ended Salazar’s regime. The book took the Portuguese people by storm, becoming a best-seller and found a permanent home in the Aljube Museum, a former political prison.

The Cannes Lions Festival is back after a two-year hiatus caused by the pandemic. It will run through June 24.

Check out all the big winners at Cannes this year.

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