Cannes Lions 2016 Showcase: The campaign that got away with saying FU

Frank Underwood Cannes Lions 2016

Frank Underwood Cannes Lions 2016 ( – When the American public was captivated by the drama of their own elections, how was Netflix going to get them excited about the launch of the latest season of their political drama, House of Cards?

They achieved this by creating a fictional political thriller which would overshadow the real-life drama happening in the public’s eye. The campaign, FU2016, won multiple awards at this year’s Cannes Lions Awards including Grand Prix for the best integrated campaign.

Here is an insight  into this award-winning campaign done by BBH New York.


Nearly 30 million people tuned in live to watch the biggest debate in American history, the agency took the opportunity to hijack the event with a political ad for a new candidate: Frank Underwood.

The ad was just the beginning of the fully realised “FU 2016” campaign for the fictional president. Voters could visit the campaign headquarters built at a national debate. The  online campaign headquarters allowed people to learn more about Frank and use a tool to say “FU” to any issue facing America on social media. People could also show their support for Frank by purchasing campaign merchandise sold at major retailers across the country.


Thanks to Donald Trump’s absurd antics, politics dominated the conversation in America like never before. Amidst this media frenzy, BBH saw an opportunity to hijack the conversation to announce the return of a fictional president during a very real moment in American history. The work rolled out strategically, attracting previous fans first to generate conversation and earned media, and then dominating mass reaching entertainment, political and news platforms to engage a broader audience.


To launch the new season of House of Cards, BBH developed a fully integrated political campaign that used television, online, social, print and experiential installations to hijack the noise surrounding the upcoming American election.


The campaign was the most successful launch in Netflix history. The Underwood campaign instantly eclipsed real presidential campaigns, becoming a top trending topic globally on Twitter and Facebook during the most watched debate in American history.

The ad itself received nearly 7 million video views in the first 24 hours. The campaign as a whole has received over 6.6 billion impressions todate.

Contributing Companies
BBH NEW YORK, USA (Entrant Company)
BBH NEW YORK, USA (Advertising Agency)
THE MILL, New York, USA (Production Company)
EXILE, Santa Monica, USA (Production Company)
RESET, Santa Monica, USA (Production Company)

John Patroulis/ BBH New York – Creative Chairman
Ari Weiss/ BBH New York- Chief Creative Officer
Kate Morrison / BBH New York- Head of Content Production
Carey Head/ BBH New York- Head of Integrated Production & Technology
Gerard Caputo/ BBH New York- Executive Creative Director
Dave Brown/ BBH New York- Creative Director
Daniel Bonder/ BBH New York- Creative Director
Mark Aronson/ BBH New York- Strategy Director
Simon Joseph/ BBH New York- Producer
Kelly Bignell-Asedo/ BBH New York- UX Director
Christina Carter/ BBH New York- Senior Producer
Alexandra Sobiecki/ BBH New York- Art Director
Taylor Marsh/ BBH New York- Copywriter
Megan Piro / BBH New York- Communications Planner
Alison Moser/ BBH New York- Business Lead
Wally Pfister/ Reset Content- Director
Bryce Fortner/ Reset Content- Director of Photography
Dave Morrison/ Reset Content- Managing Director
Jeff McDougall/ Reset Content- Executive Producer
Cassia Hoffman/ Birds + Stone- Line Producer
Jimmy Bullard/ The Mill- VFX Supervisor
Matt Murphy/ Exile- Editor
Tom Jucarone/ Sound Lounge- Sound Designer

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The APPIES is an annual event that presents a rare opportunity for creative, media, digital and marketing agencies or brands to present their best campaigns to the industry.

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