Category A08. Excellence in Audience Engagement or Distribution Strategy for Branded Content
Name Company Position
Karen Corrigan Happiness / An FCB alliance Executive Creative Management
Geoffrey Hantson Happiness / An FCB alliance Chief Creative Officer
Katrien Bottez Happiness / An FCB alliance Creative Director
Roxane Schneider Happiness / An FCB alliance Concept Provider
Pieter Claeys Happiness / An FCB alliance Concept Provider
Mattias Vermeire Happiness / An FCB alliance Account Director
Bart Vande Maele Happiness / An FCB alliance Head of Production
Dominique Turnbull Happiness / An FCB alliance Agency Producer
Arthur De Wachter Happiness / An FCB alliance Agency Producer
Simon Schuurman Happiness / An FCB alliance Motion Designer
Lieve Blancquaert Freelance Photographer
Bruno Winnen Canon Country Director Benelux
Filip Vandenbempt Canon Senior Manager Corporate Communications and Marketing Services Benelux
Aris Arakelian Canon Digital Communication Specialist

Why is this work relevant for Entertainment?

An outdoor idea, that uses a 40 minutes branded content broadcast on television to capture all the most poignant moments and illustrate all the backstories, that were also used on social. #FirstHugs by Canon is an integrated idea at the core.


Hugging. A wonderful act that can speak a thousand words and which we always considered normal. Until suddenly, it wasn’t anymore. For months, quarantined because of COVID-19, people were no longer allowed to leave their homes and to hug loved ones who were not living with them. The mental toll of this ‘no touch’ lockdown was and still are really heavy. As says Prof Robin Dunbar, evolutionary psychologist at the University of Oxford, “Touch is fundamental. The sort of more intimate touching - arm round the shoulder, a pat on the arm and these kind of things reserved for closer friendships and family members - are really important," he says. “They make us feel happier, satisfied and trusting of others.” Not surprisingly research shows that hugging and touching your loved ones is the one thing we missed most in quarantine.

Describe the creative idea

In June 2020, with life in Belgium slowly opening up after 3 months of quarantine, the Belgian government and national virologist ‘Van Ranst’ announced that Belgians can re-allow up to 10 people in their personal bubble. And yes, it’s a limited amount of people, but it was ok to hug them. At that time, Photographer and Canon Ambassador ‘Lieve Blancquaert’ was enlisted by Canon to capture these emotional moments, in a safe environment. Introducing, #FirstHugs by Canon. Real people, real stories and real emotions. Illustrating the power of photography while capturing an important cultural moment. All images were made during a 40-minute branded content broadcast on national television. The best images were then used in an outdoor campaign and the Canon Facebook page, elaborating on the stories and the background of the people that were able to hug again.

Describe the strategy

From the start we thought that the capturing of such an important cultural moment could not only be about the pictures but also about the backstories. Which is why we aimed to illustrate all of the stirring stories of loved ones finally being able to hug again via a branded content broadcasting in National Television, in peak time. To then, in the making of the TV broadcast, take as many poignant shots as possible, to be used in an extensive outdoor campaign and on social media.

Describe the execution

First the plan of illustrating all stirring stories and capturing real first hugs between loved ones in branded TV program was presented to the program director of Channel 1 (één), Belgium’s most popular TV channel. Who accepted. Then a call out was launched on social media for people who wanted to hug for the first time with a loved one after 3 months of quarantine, in front of camera. Hundreds and hundreds of people applied. While grabbing the TV program and the backstories, first hugs were captured by famous photographer and Canon ambassador ‘Lieve Blanquaert’. The most poignant shots were used in an extensive outdoor campaign, via the ‘Iconic’ big size billboards of media company Clear Channel. People could also read all backstories of those first hugs on social media.

Describe the outcome

The 40 minutes first hugs broadcast in peak time was viewed by 25% of the population. Which was the highest rate that evening.