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Cannes Lions predictions: Adidas’s ‘Beyond the Surface’

By Chris Mellish | partner

June 17, 2022 | 4 min read

What will win at Cannes Lions this year? We asked TMW Unlimited’s chief executive officer Chris Mellish for his predictions.

beyond the surface

Adidas erected the world’s first-ever swimmable billboard on Dubai beach as part of the campaign

Given the turmoil of the past few years and unease about what’s to come next, there’s an understandable desire in the industry to create a sense of optimism. Unsurprisingly, then, our favorite campaigns that are nominated at Cannes this year are the ones that make us able to feel genuinely positive about the future. Not just in the sense of alluding to a vague hope that things will be okay, but by actually creating work that inspires legitimate progress – to causes, to brands and to culture.

The best examples of work that encapsulate this spirit are driven by ideas that have the power to move people, both in the sense of moving people emotionally and in being a means to bring about change – positive change – to the world we live in. To do this across one channel is great, but in the context of modern marketing, it also needs to be brought to life across different touchpoints to deliver maximum effect.

Adidas Women’s ‘Beyond the Surface’ campaign nailed it. It took the time to invest in researching barriers to women participating in sports in the Middle East, then utilized this insight to develop its product offering to make it more inclusive. The confidence the campaign has in telling its important story with genuine purpose comes across throughout its executions in various channels.

The hero film casts four women from the UAE with diverse, authentic stories, and is produced in a way that creates a sense that change will happen. It doesn’t rely on twinkling pianos and an earnest voiceover to communicate sentimentality, it’s filled with an irresistible sense of momentum and drive.

Given the success of the video, it would have been very easy to have simply taken it and put it into different formats across an integrated campaign. Instead, the effort that has gone into bringing the same idea to life across multiple formats is what makes it stand out. By erecting the world’s first-ever swimmable billboard on Dubai beach and encouraging women to dive in, it was able to elevate the campaign from excellent to exceptional.


You can see how the insight and research have created the opportunity for the campaign to inspire change – but once it’s in place, there’s no replacement for a great creative idea to bring it all together.

Chris Mellish is chief executive officer of TMW Unlimited.

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