Cannes Lions 2022: #CHANGETHEBRIEF: How to Start Creating Evergreens

Carlijn Postma, Speaker and Author of 'Binge Marketing'

In this miniseries of three articles, Carlijn Postma reports from Cannes Lions 2022 looking at how brands are transforming into entities with a focus on sustainability and what that means for advertisers and entertainment creators.
In this miniseries of three articles, Carlijn Postma reports from Cannes Lions 2022 looking at how brands are transforming into entities with a focus on sustainability and what that means for advertisers and entertainment creators.


The Cannes Lions Festival launched Ad Net Zero, the advertising industry initiative to leave a net zero carbon footprint. It is a great initiative to create awareness and bring the production footprint down, but something is missing. Going net zero is not just about production - it starts with strategy and creation. If this industry really wants to take responsibility, become sustainable, and achieve ad net zero, it must start with rethinking the brief. To do so, it’s time to let go of campaign thinking and start creating evergreens.



What is Evergreen Content?


Advertising has the habit of following audiences in our media landscape, but over the past few decades, this media landscape has become overwhelmed, resulting in single-use, disposable content spread out over too many channels. It has become a cycle – one that generates the one thing we don’t need: more single-use, disposable content, the hidden polluter of our industry. We need a more sustainable approach to our marketing efforts and need to stop creating content waste that lasts only one day, or for the brief duration of a limited campaign. This is true at every stage: strategy, creation and distribution.


Let’s look at a few of the Cannes Lions winners in the film category to ask and answer questions that represent the key tenets of what evergreen content looks like:



Can the Story Stand the Test of Time?

Chipotle’s Cultivate Foundation (Silver Lion)


Ten years ago, Chipotle launched its first stop motion film Back to the Start. Chipotle’s agency Observatory described it as following: “Back to the Start told the story of a family farmer who loses his way, turning his family farm into a factory farm before realizing his mistake and going back to the start.” A decade later they’ve collaborated again on, as I see it, the sequel. The story continues in A Future Begins, picking up the Back to the Start story ten years later. The family farm is being passed onto the son and daughter in law, showing a lot of challenges farmers encounter, which appealing to today’s farmers in the US.


These two movies show great consistency in story, characters and even music by using two songs by Coldplay in an adapted version. Watching this second film makes you want to watch the first one too, even though it was made ten years ago. The storyline and the characters appear to be timeless. Although it presumably wasn’t written in the brief ten years ago that it should get a sequel a decade later, we can assume that using storytelling techniques like they did in these films is key for creating evergreen content.



Is it or can it be Serial?

Apple’s Escape From the Office (Grand Prix)


This Grand Prix winner of Apple at Work is a nine-minute film with the so-called Underdogs -four diverse characters who work together in a team at an office with a horrible boss. These characters were introduced several films ago, their stories progressing with each episode. In this award-wining episode they quit their jobs and start their own business, facing all the challenges new business owners encounter. These three films can be called a series. Mo