Cannes Lions

The Da Vinci of Debt

AB INBEV, New York / ABINBEV / 2021


2 Shortlisted
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Supporting Images
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Natural Light Beer is a value beer in the United States and one of the leading brands in the highly competitive segment, 21-26 y/o M/F consumers, aka college students.

Speaking of, in the U.S., college debt is a national crisis and hot debate for our target. The average tuition has ballooned to $180,000, and the national college debt total is $1.7 trillion dollars, stunting these individuals’ economic potential for decades.

In 2021, Natural Light was entering the fourth year of its well-known College Debt Relief Program, where the brand commits $1 million each year to help students pay down their loans.

The brief:

1. Re-invigorate the Natural Light College Debt Relief program by surpassing previous levels of earned media, social and digital metrics.

2. Demonstrate to our target in a bold, compelling way that Natural Light continues to support one of the biggest challenges they face.


The numbers around college debt are so astounding... they had begun to lose all meaning! How do you even fathom what a trillion dollars looks like!?

To reignite the conversation around this debt, we needed the country to truly grasp the size, scale and weight of the issue. So, we went to the art world, well-known for its outrageous prices as well, but with much better PR and attention. Which got us thinking…

What if we hijacked the conversation around fine art prices, by creating the world’s most expensive piece of art that would double as commentary on the college debt crisis?


Our strategy in a line: disrupt conversation on art prices by creating a stunning piece of art ourselves that doubled as commentary on college debt, thereby promoting our own college relief program that gives back to consumers.

The bedrock message behind our headline of ‘the world’s most expensive piece of art’ was the implementation of 2,600 real college diplomas, which made up the entirety of the installation. This was a compelling and unexpected dramatisation as each diploma symbolized the fact 4-years of college education can cost a graduate $180,000.

Da Vinci of Debt was open to the public in one of the busiest parts of New York City, as well as accessible via a SnapChat partnership and immersive digital gallery. Each of these touchpoints allowed us to host consumers, editors, influencers and key stakeholders to drive fame for the execution and promotion of our core messages and campaign.


To get people talking about the ridiculous prices of a college education in America, we went to a place with even more insane prices, and a lot more press... the art world - creating the most expensive piece of art in history, using real diplomas to form a sculpture that could not be ignored.

Made from 2,600 authentic college diplomas, we designed a 12-meter tall art installation in New York City. The Da Vinci of Debt stood in Grand Central Terminal for three days in January, 2021, opened exclusively to the media first, then the public.

The design purposefully induced intensity and anxiety: illustrating the scale of the crisis while alluding to the chaotic impact college debt creates for those burdened with it.

Natural Light’s website and Snapchat allowed people to navigate the installation virtually, learning more about it as well as how to enter the College Debt Relief program.


Our objective was to reinvigorate the conversation on college debt:

We achieved national and international headlines, convincing media titles and influencers that would never consider covering college debt OR Natural Light to get behind our program.

Some of the world’s most renowned art publications, including Architectural Digest - entered the discussion on whether Natural Light truly had created the world’s most expensive piece of art.

Engagement with our community sky-rocketed, with site traffic increasing by 386% during the January launch, and social impressions reached our highest level ever at 501,000+ unique social engagements.

Da Vinci of Debt secured 794 feature stories across America, high art and culture media in Italy, Russia, the UK and more. Total monthly impressions reached 1.25 billion.

Natural Light gained 0.47 share of the Value Segment in January and will be on shelves through March 2021, with final sales data still being procured.

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