Cannes Lions

Banknote of the Stolen Billion

PIKO CREATIVE, Chisinau / TV8 MOLDOVA / 2020

Presentation Image
Digital Proof JPG
Demo Film






In 2014, one billion dollars vanished from 3 banks from Moldova. Public faces & even the Government got involved in the heist. After 5 years, the investigation had made no progress. No one was arrested and not a single cent was returned. Instead, the debt became public debt. Every citizen has to return the stolen billion, plus a 85% interest rate, to the National Bank of Moldova, until 2041.

The problem is that people started to forget about the fraud. Our task was to raise awareness & promote the Cutia Neagra investigations TV show, using a limited budget of 3500 euros.

The campaign included digital, mainstream & direct communication channels.


TV8 is an independent media platform from Moldova. Cutia Neagra (Black Box) is a TV show that airs on TV8, with a focus on political & economical matters.

As the "Theft of the Century" entered both international media & pop culture, #undeimiliardul (wheres the billion?) turned into a frequently asked question that popped-up in conversations. Journalists kept wondering when will the Government start returning the lost money from offshore accounts, but that subject kept being swept under the rug.

Thus, as a public reminder, on 5th anniversary, we launched the first ever Billion Dollar Banknote, on which we finely illustrated the heist operation & actors through visual metaphors. Also, we sneaked some critically important dates and a complete timeline.

Our target included the 30-70 aged female+male sector, including public officials, regional & international journalists, international organizations & diplomatic missions.


We contacted Tatiana Trikoz, an illustrator from Georgia which specializes on dollar-style-engraved illustrations, to help us with this project.

The illustrating process began from a brief introduction into the fraud, research & continued through sketches of individual elements on paper, then ended up integrated in Photoshop, where the engraving effect and elements were combined. There were 10 versions of the banknote design, including 4 different compositions. In total, there are ~35 hidden visual metaphors, which helped people see the fraud as they never seen it before. Then, we added a complete timeline of the fraud on the back of the banknote.

We printed 5000 banknotes and handed the billion back to the people through 2 public events: in front of the National Bank & Parliament. The campaign was reinforced on social media & gained traction through the help of journalists & influencers and a dedicated website.


We registered 1.5 million impressions (96% organic impressions) & 25 000 direct reach through public events.

5000 banknotes were handed to the citizens, international & regional media, ambassadors & diplomatic missions, international investigation organizations, such as Interpol, OCCRP & Kroll, Parliament officials, Prime Minister & even the President of Moldova.

The audience on Cutia Neagra TV show increased by 110%.

After the launch of the Banknote of the Stolen Billion, the General Prosecutor fired those that were investigating the fraud, hired a new committee & designated new prosecutors on the case, in order to return the stolen billion.