CANNES--A campaign that saw Australia’s biggest bank “break up” with the poorly-regarded financial industry has won the Grand Prix at the third edition of the Cannes PR Lions.

The National Australia Bank (NAB) programme, created by ad agency Clemenger BBDO Melbourne, began with a fake accidental tweet, and included a variety of components that aimed to distance the bank from its rivals.

Jury president Dave Senay, CEO of Fleishman-Hillard, pointed out that the campaign was based on the “single, compelling insight” that people “consider all banks the same” following the global financial crisis.

“Based on that insight came a very creative idea,” said Senay. “If you think we are together, then why don’t we stage a public break-up? Underlying all of this was using this massive force of negativity about banking against your competition.”

Senay called the approach “conceptual jujitsu”, allowing NAB to hone its positioning while “depositioning its competition”. He also praised its integrated use of social media, and other paid, owned and earned channels.

The Australia entry topped a list of Lions winners that, for the third year, remains dominated by advertising agencies. Of the 10 gold Lions, just two came from PR firms: London’s PLMR for a public affairs campaign on behalf of Durand Academy; and perennial contender Prime PR, for an Electrolux programme in Sweden.

Four PR firms won silver Lions: Hill & Knowlton Warsaw for Gedeon Richter Marketing; OneVoice London for Philips; Burson-Marsteller London for the Royal British Legion’s 2010 Poppy Appeal; and, Brazil’s FSB for a Rio De Janeiro state government campaign.

A total of 39 lions were handed out, down from 44 last year.

In response to a question about the preponderance of successful ad agencies, Senay said that “creativity in PR doesn’t have an address.”

“We’re in an era where the labels matter less and less,” said Senay. “Especially when we have this mashup of channels and disciplines.”

Senay expressed disappointment with the quality of entries in the corporate categories, and also pointed out that the PR industry is “doing fabulous work in the area of marketing.”

“The industry is still at a nascent stage in competing at a global level with organisations that make a living doing this, and I think we have a lot to learn.”