CANNES—Always #LikeAGirl, the MSLGroup/Leo Burnett campaign that aimed to turn an insult into a movement for confidence among teenage girls, has scooped top honours at the 2015 Cannes PR Lions.

The effort triumphed from a field that included almost 2,000 entries. The campaign's core insight, based on empowering girls during puberty, helped P&G brand Always spawn a trending conversation that ultimately built strong loyalty and purchase intent among its target audience.

PR Lions jury president and FleishmanHillard Asia-Pacific CEO Lynne Anne Davis noted that the #LikeAGirl effort met all of the key criteria for a PR Grand Prix — creativity, earned trust and measurable behaviour change.

"It was a great example of starting a lot of conversations, and that is definitely a very prominent example of where the PR agency can play a role," said Davis. "The whole issue of self-esteem was really where those conversations started."

The campaign asked why the phrase 'Like A Girl' had become an insult, and attempted to demonstrate how damaging these words are to girls, particularly at puberty. Always partnered with award-winning documentarian and director Lauren Greenfield to produce a video featuring people of all ages interpreting the phrase 'like a girl', with MSLGroup's influencer and media campaign helped turn the video viral.

MSLGroup was not the only PR firm to win a Gold Lion, with Edelman (Adobe's 'Photoshop Murder Mystery'), FleishmanHillard (#TechnologyAndStuff for Chevrolet Trucks) and Australia's Fuel Communications ('Clever Buoy' for Optus), also playing a lead role on Gold Lions winners.

Under the partner PR agency designation, furthermore, there were Gold Lions for Waggener Edstrom (Volvo's 'Interception' with Grey); Ogilvy PR Beijing ('Great Chinese Names for Great Britain' for VisitBritain, which won twice); Alison Brod PR (Burger King's 'Proud Whopper' with David Miami); Material Tokyo (Quiksilver's 'True Wetsuits' with TBWA\Hakuhodo Tokyo); and, Porter Novelli (The ALS Association's 'Ice Bucket Challenge').

All told, 10 PR firms worked on nine of the 17 Gold Lion winners, a major improvement on previous years.

"We prepared for Cannes knowing it would be a major breakthrough year for public relations," said Davis. "2015, in Cannes, showcases the dramatic elevation of the force and power of PR in the world today."

There were also Silver Lions for Alison Brod for Burger King; Fuel Communications for Optus; FleishmanHillard for Chevrolet Trucks; N2N Communications for AirBnb; Marie-Antoinette Paris for Transavia; Material Tokyo for Quiksilver; SweeneyVesty for Scoot Airlines; Colectivo Bogota for Heineken; WagEd for Volvo; Ogilvy PR for VisitBritain; and, Edelman for Adobe and Dove.