Cannes Lions

Beyond the Capitals


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Case Film






Official 2017 data shows that Russia boasts six million small and medium-sized businesses that flourish in its smaller communities. The creative visionaries and transformative thinkers behind these enterprises, building Russia’s economy and often challenging the status quo, may be known to their communities, but remain invisible to the rest of the country.

We saw Google’s opportunity to show it had both the power and the tools—Maps and Search—to illuminate the thousands of talented, skilled, and creative people with diverse--even radical--artistic and entrepreneurial ideas worth supporting. If we could find them all through Google products, we’d be on our way to winning the hearts and minds of Russians no matter where they lived.

We conceived “Beyond the Capitals” and set out to identify, map and celebrate Russia’s most fascinating unknown doers and thinkers. Then invited the Russian people to discover them on Google Maps via Google Search.


PR’s first move was to win over a critical partner to the campaign’s success: the pro-governmental Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI). ASI shared its SMB expertise with us, and together we selected the most effective “voices” for our project– including top media partners, prominent YouTube and Instagram bloggers, and Russian celebrities– to drive awareness and participation.

An interactive Google Maps site was created where people could “pin” or nominate extraordinary local people who had jumpstarted particularly creative and visionary initiatives, and tell their inspirational stories to the world. Anyone meeting three criteria could be pinned to the map:

1) Lived outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg;

2) Known for making their city inhabitants’ or villagers’ lives better;

3) Not a politician, celebrity, or popular blogger.

PR spread the word through earned media channels to generate nominations and drive members of the public to vote for their favorite local rising stars


Not only did we reach tens of millions of non-Google users and improve the overall perception and favorability of Google in Russia, but the campaign contributed to the growth of Google market share in Russia, helping the company squarely compete head to head with Yandex.


•Significant market share growth for Google from April-November, 2017.

•24 million+ non-Google users reached and engaged through the campaign.


•6% improved local relevancy (“Google knows and understands Russia”).

•6% increase by consumers surveyed in their reported intention to “use Google Maps more often.”

•Two key regional governments officially supported the project.


•2,000+ citizens applied and 600 “pinned” on Google Maps from 600+ Russian cities and villages.

•1,100+ positive earned media articles generated, including 40+ TV news stories, and 65+ positive radio spots, resulting in a total reach of 3.4 billion people.

•30+ influencers and bloggers posts reached 13 million+ combined followers.

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