Tonight in Cannes, France, the Chipotle Scarecrow campaign won two Golden Lions and the Grand Prix for PR. This marks the first time that a PR firm has actually won the coveted Grand Prix award. In prior years, I would gnash my teeth and break pencils when I learned that ad agencies had invaded our space and had done a better job of convincing the judges. PR firms have learned how to play the game, with visually arresting content to go with the usual high substance and top class results.

The team of Edelman and Creative Artists Agency (Los Angeles), working with the Academy Award-winning production company Moonbot Studios in Shreveport, did a brilliant job of bringing sustainable food production to the fore through an unbranded short-form film and video game. “The Scarecrow” was aimed at continuing the momentum garnered from “Back to the Start” in 2011, which made the case for Chipotle being a reputable and responsible brand with their ingredients that respected animals, environment and farmers. Chipotle calls their approach to sourcing Food With Integrity.

Lisa Kovitz and the small, but nimble, Chipotle team at Edelman were tasked with driving downloads of the game and maximizing views of the film. The campaign’s launch day saw signature stories in USA Today and on Bloomberg TV. Then, the team went for coverage in opinion-forming blogs such as Mashable and key trades such as Adweek. Subsequent coverage included The New York TimesThe Wall Street JournalHuffington PostNPRFast CompanySalonSlateGawker, BuzzFeed, Businessweek and Scientific American.

Within a week, the game had been downloaded 300,000 times and the companion film had 5 million views (now up to nearly 14 million). The coverage was incredibly positive for Chipotle as a leader in improving America’s food system. Take note, readers, that this is a very tangible result for a classic PR program based on media relations executed across the entire media cloverleaf. Publicity matters, if well executed and inextricably linked to the company’s values and overall marketing strategy.

Along with the three wins for Chipotle’s The Scarecrow, Edelman won a Bronze Lion for Unilever’s Why Bring a Child into the World?, and received four other nominations, including two for the Albal Challenge – A Day Without Leftovers from Edelman Spain; one for Heineken’s #Sharethesofa out of the UK office; and one for Best & Less’ The L&B (LAB) Experiment.

I am deeply gratified that we are the first PR firm to win the Grand Prix in our category. Let all of us in our profession take the pledge that this trophy should never leave PR land again. Our down payment on this pledge is the nearly 40 people from Edelman who are here this week to drink in knowledge and to persuade clients that we are able to take on ever broader assignments in the marketing sphere.

Richard Edelman is president and CEO.

June 18, 2014 Update: Though not awarded due to the rules at the time, PR company FleishmanHillard was part of the 2010 Grand Prix winning team for Gatorade’s Replay. The Cannes Lions rules were updated in 2013 to allow multiple agencies to be listed on an award submission.