​It’s not always about the freshest sneakers...
​It’s not always about the freshest sneakers...

Sarah Martin, Director of Communications at Concern Worldwide, on the IAPI Cannes Lions competition

About a year ago, one of my team, who had worked in the advertising industry in Dublin, came to me and asked if I’d heard of the Cannes Lions competition. After a couple of initial meetings with outgoing Director of IAPI, Tania Bannotti, Concern Worldwide was on the Cannes Lions journey.

The immediate challenge was to pin down our brief and set the challenge for young advertisers. We had the opportunity to get a top class cinema advertisement made but what would be the aim of the campaign?

Concern Worldwide is a household name in Ireland. We were founded 50 years ago by a Dublin couple in response to a devastating famine caused by civil war in Biafra, Nigeria. Many people in Ireland had grown up with Concern and had neighbours and friends who had volunteered and worked abroad for Concern and come back with inspiring and heartbreaking stories.

However, this was a certain generation and while Concern is well known amongst the 45+ audience, we are not a brand that Ireland’s millennials are familiar with.

Our strategic plan, Leaving No-One Behind, outlines our ambition to engage with youth and nurture the next generation of supporters. While we know that 17 to 35 year olds may not have the disposable income now to financially contribute to an organisation like Concern, we hope that increased brand awareness will put us to the forefront of their mind when the day comes that they wish to donate. After all, direct debits are a lifeline for Concern and allow us to change and save millions of lives year after year all over Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Haiti.

The brief was to develop a brand awareness advertisement that would capture the hearts and minds of 17 to 35 year old. We wanted to bring Concern into their world, connect with them and let our organisation shine.


We received some amazing creative ideas from young advertisers. I was seriously excited and nervous as I read through the shortlisted scripts but even before the day when the young advertisers pitched to the team of judges at IAPI’s offices, there was one script that stood out.

When Kieran and Eric from Guns Or Knives presented their creative idea at the judging session, I was a little wary. ‘Sneaker culture’ was not something I was very in touch with. No surprise, given the demographic. The judges were unanimous though and persuaded me to go with it.

IAPI were hugely supportive to Concern in the process, pairing us with an advertising strategist, Emer Howard, ex-Rothco, who helped us develop our brief.

Max Brady from Pull the Trigger must have called in every contact in her little black book to produce the advertisement including LA-based director, Zach Guerra, who was passionate about contributing to Concern’s mission to end extreme poverty.

Having the campaign aired in every cinema in Ireland is a massive opportunity for Concern and huge credit must go to Wide Eye Media for their amazing contribution to promoting charitable causes such as Concern, The Peter McVerry Trust and Cystic Fibrosis Ireland.

We are thrilled with the final result. The #onestep advert is a really clever concept, turning a subculture on its head to make young people really think about issues that matter.

As Seth says “it’s not always about the freshest sneakers, it’s about the steps you take in them”.