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CCO Ali Rez on how Impact BBDO came up with the ‘The Election Edition’ that landed them a Grand Prix win

CANNES, FRANCE — Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2022 has started awarding the best of the best creative minds the industry has to offer, and without a doubt, Impact BBDO Dubai CCO and Cannes Lions 2022 Judge for Print & Publishing Lions Ali Rez is one of them. 
With over 17 years in creative leadership across the USA, Middle East, North Africa, and Asia, Rez is one of the most successful award-winning creative leaders in the world; ranked amongst the top 15 Creative Directors by the Big Won Report. He has won more than 500 international awards in his career, and has been instrumental in Impact BBDO’s success in garnering a ranking among the top 5 most creative agencies in the world. Now, he has returned to Cannes as a judge for the Print & Publishing Lions, with one of the entries being his agency’s campaign.
Under his leadership, Impact BBDO Dubai has brought home the Grand Prix for the Print & Publishing category in the 2022 Cannes Lions, with their campaign called “The Election Edition” for AnNahar Newspaper in Lebanon.


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“We started thinking of this little nugget of an insight,” Rez told adobo Magazine Editor-in-Chief Angel Guerrero, when asked of the Grand Prix winning campaign’s beginnings, “And the solution came right out of it.”
The Election Edition was “the edition that never was, so the election can be.” The campaign was a response to the delay of the 2022 Lebanese Elections, with the government’s continuous postponement to remain in power. They used the shortage of resources in the country, such as paper and ink, to justify the event being pushed back time and time again, saying there weren’t enough to print ballots.

“Here’s what’s the government’s saying,” Rez said. “What if we take this to them as a solution and say, how about we give you the paper and ink so that you won’t have any more excuses?”
They approached AnNahar Newspaper, one of Impact BBDO’s longstanding business partners, with this in mind. AnNahar loved brave and bold ideas, and while typically newspapers were hesitant to sacrifice their daily issue, they were eager to move forward with the campaign.
AnNahar made an announcement to the public to look forward to their election edition, and on the day of its launch, Lebanon showed up to the news stands and saw an empty news rack with a message, “we didn’t print the newspaper to cover the election’s needs,” along with a link to the online edition. Trucks then delivered that day’s paper and ink supply to the government’s printing associate, eliminating all their excuses. The press, private and recycling companies, and even election candidates themselves supported the cause, the campaign having revived hope amongst many Lebanese citizens. Currently, the Lebanese Elections are scheduled to ahead as planned.
While Rez had to abstain as a judge in the Jury deliberation for this campaign, he spoke of how these sessions were fruitful and engaging — the difference between speaking to one’s peers from behind the screen versus being a part of a festival surrounded by people sharing the same level of energy.
“And beyond that — just meeting people, chatting with them about the industry, looking at the work — just walking through the gallery downstairs was incredible, very emotional,” he expressed.
During these sessions, Rez and the other judges for the Print & Publication category had many discussions about the future of print during their sessions, and the two streams of it: on the printed page with a standard so high it becomes difficult to stand out, and beyond what that page stands for; additions of different mediums like tech or PR and how all of this could connect to something else that is beyond what’s said on the page.
“I think a lot more of the future is on the latter,” Rez said. “I hope it’s towards both sides, but I think there’ll be lots more innovative approaches to print that we will see and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Optimism for the future is high at Cannes and in the industry in general, and Rez agrees wholeheartedly.
“This year we’ve already seen a resurgence of really amazing creativity. Just within the first day I’ve seen stuff which is just incredible. It’s blown my mind, and I think we’ll see more of it as this goes on.”

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