How 2024 Cannes Award-Winning Campaigns Resonate with the Over 50s

Cannes is the undisputed global benchmark for creative excellence, celebrating ideas that move people, business, and society forward. However, as an ‘audience first’ agency, we asked ourselves: “Who are they referring to?” How much of Cannes’ celebrated creativity truly resonates with the average person, especially the often overlooked over 50s demographic?

Introducing Nans Lions

To explore how Cannes campaigns resonate with the over 50s, we conducted a mini-study with the help of Grayling employees, who nominated their grandparents around the country, to participate. The participants reviewed 3-4 award-winning campaigns each from this year’s Cannes Lions to gauge their emotional responses and sentiment. The selected campaigns included the winner of this year’s newest category, Best Use of Humour: Specsavers and the Misheard Version with Rick Astley, Dove’s The Cost of Beauty which won a Bronze Media Lion, NHS Organ Donation and Transplant: Waiting to Live campaign, winner of a Silver Lion in the Health and Wellness category, and the V&A: If you’re into it, it’s in the V&A, winner of a Silver Lion in the Outdoor Lions category.

Key Insights
Honesty, Facts, and Inclusion

When asked what changes they would like to see in the industry, our participants called for honesty, facts over fiction, and inclusion. This demographic makes up a substantial portion of the population with significant spending power. They want to be able to trust brands, but the trust barometer is low for this demographic when it comes to advertising. They feel neglected and want to be portrayed as the active, life-loving individuals they are, not the clichéd old couples on a cruise ship watching the sunset.

Timing and Preferences

Television advertising presents another challenge. Daytime TV often targets an older audience with ads for funeral care and life insurance, while Prime Time is geared toward younger viewers. Our participants expressed a preference for in-store experiences over current TV advertising trends. While they use trusted websites for research, they prefer to make purchases in-store, where possible. Therefore, businesses need to remove barriers for purchase if they operate online-only and consider how they would influence a demographic that favours in-store experiences.

“As marketers, it’s crucial to remember and cater to this influential demographic, ensuring that our creative efforts genuinely move and include everyone. As an audience-first agency with offices in nine regions across the UK, people and place matter to us. While Cannes sets a high bar for creative excellence, there’s room for improvement in ensuring that its celebrated campaigns resonate with all audiences, including the often-overlooked over 50s.” – Alice McRoe, Senior Creative at Grayling UK.

Reactions to Campaigns


Humour and Trust: Specsavers

The Specsavers campaign successfully evoked humour and entertained our panel of judges, achieving its desired effect. Our judges also expressed a willingness to consider using Specsavers, recognising it as a trusted brand they would go to for hearing checks and vision. This indicates that household brand names could benefit from targeting this audience with relatable and entertaining content. By tapping into humour and leveraging the familiarity and trust associated with well-known brands, marketers can effectively engage an older audience, enhancing brand affinity and loyalty.

Inclusivity and Reach: Dove

One judge felt that the Dove campaign wasn’t inclusive enough, suggesting that more dads and sons should have been featured, as the issue affects all youths and parents. While Dove has been promoting body positivity among all women in recent years, this message had not reached our judges, indicating that their strategy may not be reaching wider audiences as they are not being shared on their preferred platforms.

Seeking Positivity Amid Sadness: NHS Organ Transplant

One judge expressed a strong dislike for this particular campaign, describing the negative emotions it evoked. The campaign made them feel sad, they could imagine that little boy still sitting alone, which intensified feelings of loneliness. In a time marked by widespread sadness and the loss of loved ones and friends, the judge emphasised the need for campaigns that transform sadness into positivity. They want to see and feel positive change, seeking uplifting and encouraging messages rather than those that amplify existing sorrow.

Accessibility and Nostalgia: V&A

Accessibility was a common theme among the judges. Captions, subtitles, and slower video speeds help convey messages more effectively, a slight issue identified with the V&A campaign video. Music choices from the 60s and 70s were favourable, evoking emotional connections and potentially enhancing brand affinity and recollection through the release of the ‘love’ hormone, oxytocin.

Our findings highlight the importance of inclusive, relatable, and trust-building content in creative campaigns, urging the industry to consider the valuable over 50s demographic in their future creative endeavours. If you’d like to know more about the project or would like to speak with our team about Creativity that Connects, email