The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity awarded the Lebanese Annahar newspaper the Grand Prix for Print and Publishing for its surprising "Blank Edition" that was published last year as a wake-up call over the critical conditions going in Lebanon.
The award was received by Dani Richa, CEO of Impact BBDO, an advertisement agency from Dubai that had created the campaign and redesigned Annahar newspaper to feature a blank front page.
At receiving the award, Dany Richa expressed his happiness and excitement. For the first time ever, a participant from the Arab world received that particularly prestigious award.
Mr. Richa went on crediting the impact of the issue to the fact that "it came at a time of declining printing sales and the ongoing challenges of adapting to the digital world."
Editor-in-Chief Nayla Tueni back then held a copy of the blank edition at a news conference at An-Nahar’s headquarters, with the statement: Annahar (The Day) is White in Front of the Darkness.
"People are fed up," she said. "And we're still waiting for the political class to make good on its promises as we stare at one of the most consequential periods in our history."
After the blank edition was released, the newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief asked the citizens to use it to write their own headlines and send them as messages to the local politicians over social media.
That strikingly daring blank edition went on becoming the best selling edition of the newspaper, earning global coverage in 100 publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the BBC, achieving 5 million dollars worth of earned media.
Speaking about the "blank edition" and the earned award, Print and Publishing Jury President Olivier Altmann, who is the co-founder, CEO, and CCO of Altmann & Pacreau, France, explained:
"For us, it was the perfect demonstration that print creativity can do a lot for print media itself, for print journalism. We thought it was really bold to award a Grand Prix to a white piece of paper that people could fill. It’s almost an interactive tool for real life."
Altmann also explained that the jury’s decision came very easily and that it was really unanimous. "It took us about five seconds to award the Grand Prix," he said.
Besides, in April 2019, Annahar captured three other awards at the 2019 Dubai Lynx Festival (MENA's premier festival of creativity) for printing that blank edition.
The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is a global event related to people who work in creative communications, advertising, and other connected fields.
The five-day festival is held yearly at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès in Cannes, France festival. It is considered the largest gathering of the advertising and creative communication's industry that incorporates the awarding of the Lions' Awards.