Cream of the crop from the Cannes Festival

campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 30 June 2006 12:00AM

Back from Cannes after an exhausting week debating and assessing the real reason for the Festival, jurors in eight categories reveal their judging criteria, their frustration at their favourites not winning the Grand Prix and how UK work could compete better.

FILM - Rosie Arnold, creative director, Bartle Bogle Hegarty

I was last on the Cannes Film jury some seven years ago, so I was curious to see if the category had changed.

Well, yes and no. There are many, many more entries. Visual effects and the film-making process have moved on leaps and bounds, so to quote the Advertiser of the Year: "Impossible is nothing." But the desire to award a great idea is still key, and that was the jury's priority, led by the statesmanship of David Droga.

To my mind, the media circus that has grown up around Cannes is making the judging more and more political. Nearly all the questions the jury fielded at the TV press conference were nationalistic and provocative.

Even at the awards ceremony, ads were presented as "from the UK" or "from Brazil". I wish they concentrated on the work, not its country of origin.

A lot of commercials this year seemed to feature the world's greatest footballers. So many, in fact, that if the World Cup isn't as thrilling as we all want it to be, we've only got ourselves to blame: those boys should be out there training, not practising their slightly perplexed expression.

Other trends were talking animals, sleeping babies, a mysterious phenomenon sweeping a city, general weirdness ... oh, and sex. So if you can think of an idea using all of those, it might do the trick next year.

Viewing and voting on ads for a full six days is an exhausting process: rewarding and frustrating at the same time. Some ads I felt passionate about got nothing and a couple I hated got an award, but overall I think we made the right decisions. Guinness "noitulove" for the Grand Prix wasn't my first choice. Although it's a brilliant piece of work, I think we should have had more balls.

OUTDOOR - David Alberts, executive creative director, Grey London

I started judging Outdoor with the belief that outdoor advertising is by its very nature pollution: unasked-for pieces of intrusive clutter that block my view of the landscape, and on that basis I was very tough with my criteria for judging. Was it a rewarding idea, outstandingly or innovatively executed? Would the team back home talk about it? Clearly, some of the judges did not agree with me.

With no disrespect to the team at Fallon (they did deserve a Grand Prix, just not in this category), I would have chosen something other than Tate Britain. I wish I'd created the Adidas "you are the ball" installation, which put members of the public in a giant ball attached to bungee ropes, which was then launched skyward by the foot of a virtual Steven Gerrard.

And not as big, but equally as powerful, was the in-store poster campaign for Kleenex Tissue from Malaysia.

However, the campaign that really made me want to cry was the Homeless campaign from Sweden. I will never forget that there are 3,173 people on the streets in Stockholm. The creative team placed a numbered black poster for each person throughout the city. Number 763 could be seen wrapping a building, 1,893 in a bus shelter. And so on. Other ads and a website then told the human story behind each number. The outdoor medium truly was the message and despite being a pro bono account, I believe it deserved gold and possibly a rule-changing Grand Prix.

Finishing judging, I understood why the world has a pollution problem.

I respect that I have different points of view to my colleagues in different parts of the world. And when I finally get back to London I will tell my creative department that if I am going to return to Cannes next year, we're going to have to work even harder.

TITANIUM - Nick Brien, president and chief executive, Universal McCann

As I leave Cannes, I am inspired and excited by the quality and diversity of the work I saw while on the Titanium jury.

The Titanium category was created to award the breakthrough work which did not fit into any other Cannes Lion Category. We judged 203 excellent examples of well-integrated and creative brand campaigns. Today, however, integrated campaigns are to be expected but not awarded in this category and the festival organisers are now considering having a new Integrated Campaign category.

The Titanium jury was committed to honouring the original charter for Titanium to the highest level - work that completely breaks through convention on every level.

There were many impressive entries, which made the process stimulating and rewarding, although I was not impressed with a rash of "hoax"-type marketing stunts, which I believe are more likely to alienate the audience rather than create a positive brand experience. Having said that, we did shortlist the "still free" work by droga5 for its sheer gutsiness and the near hysteria it caused.

Agreement on the winner was unanimous, with all of us saying: "Why didn't I think of that?" It was a real Titanium Lion winner.

Barcode Design took a simple and unattractive element of modern life, the barcode, and turned it into an object of meaning and even beauty.

By simply manipulating those vertical black lines into art, it created an entirely new channel of communication.

The barcode for a compact disc was morphed into musical notes; the barcode for shampoo became strands of hair.

All of the barcodes are readable and they report zero misreadings among the 60 or so designs currently in circulation. The genius of this idea was the choice to innovate something that has been right under our noses for the past 20 years.

CYBER - Seb Royce, creative director, Glue London

Being a member of the Cyber Lions jury was a great honour, as well as being inspiring (some amazing work), frustrating (waiting for your 50th corporate website to load) and stimulating (an enormous amount of heated "discussion"). I didn't necessarily agree with all of the results, but the arguments were strong on all sides and a majority vote saw work move into winning positions.

Despite being asked in the press conference if I was disappointed that the UK only picked up one gold - a piece from the Viral Factory - I was actually proud of how UK agencies performed.

With the difference between silver and gold often being just a couple of votes, I think the UK's was a good showing in an area of the awards that is getting more and more competitive every year.

That Crispin Porter & Bogusky won so many gold Lions and took one of the Grands Prix for its Volkswagen GTI campaign didn't really surprise any of the jury, but it did make me realise that something has to change in the UK if we are to stay in the hunt. It's about time we stopped simply paying lip service to digital and started moving proper budget into it. And I don't mean just into media.

Production budgets are still tiny in the digital space compared with the amount of money being spent offline, yet the internet will very soon be the most important communication channel we have.

We are in danger of creating a stalemate in the UK, with traditional advertising agencies aware that they should be focusing on digital, but not having the know-how to do it and the digital agencies having all the knowledge, but none of the budget.

We should be striving to integrate digital into everything we do, sharing knowledge and expertise, rather than seeing it as a threat.

That way, and given the talent we have in this country, we should have many golden (silver and bronze) years ahead of us.

PRESS - Jeremy Craigen, executive creative director, DDB London

It's interesting being a Cannes juror. Mysterious packages turn up in your hotel room, ranging from a beautiful book containing a record of a network's press work, to trade magazines which all happen to be the issues in which local print awards are published. It's all a bit naughty, but not illegal. A bit like Cannes, really.

Then there's the jury: 18 people from 18 different countries. Some I know; some I've heard of; some I haven't (and it's easy to see why).

And then, there are the ads. All 8,000 of them.

The first two days were depressing, as we whittled them down to a shortlist of 598. The usual clients and products you only see at awards shows made their appearances, such as ads for bonsai tree shops. There were a couple of newcomers this year. An ad for the Austrian bartenders' school and one for dog blood banks.

We judged every ad innocent until proven guilty. But it's so easy in print to bend the rules: an ad only needs to run once to be deemed legal.

The problem is that many agencies spend so much time and attention on these ads that the real stuff gets compromised in the knowledge that there is always an agency version which can run somewhere. Unfortunately, this means the consumers get some crap in their newspapers and magazines, while ad folk get the gems. You see it in so many entries. Target market: awards juries. No wonder clients question our integrity.

Anyway, the work I liked from the winners was a campaign for Photoderm - a kids' sun-cream. I liked the campaign for Mapa Spontex protective gloves; and a beautifully written campaign for East Timor tourism.

Did these ads run? Are they scam? I don't know. I just wish we'd done them.

MEDIA - Charlie Makin, chief strategic officer, BLM

I work on the principle that there is no idea as good as someone else's, which is why I agreed to be one of the 26 jurors judging 1,750 entries in Media at Cannes this year.

Given the velocity of change in media, there couldn't be a better chance to see really inspiring work. In reality, about 5 per cent was world class - the rest was average or derivative.

This year, there was a real blurring of the lines between media and creativity.

A lot of ad agencies entered media campaigns and I saw many fantastic entries from media companies based on generating engaging content with media owners.

The best entries were often those in which the media agency exploited a great creative idea. However, I got the impression that the chasm between media and creative is not being bridged. Individuals often work well together; the sticking point is the network structures that pay lip service to collaboration and integration, but don't deliver.

The Australian Lynx campaign that won the Grand Prix was a great piece of integrated work; Lowe Hunt Australia and Universal McCann created Lynxjet, a spoof airline, and ran a mock airline campaign with an incredibly intricate media strategy across all media channels. It delivered a massive leap in sales and created huge notoriety. It was a great media strategy, but it also had fantastic creative work and it is an interesting lesson for the future, where true integration drives real return on investment.

We are at a crossroads in media; digital is changing everything. Integration is incredibly difficult to do well; I saw a few examples that were brilliant, but many where the intention was there and the execution failed.

I think in the next couple of years we will see more examples where media entries get it right, which, hopefully, could herald the return to real collaboration between media and creative.

DIRECT - Steve Harrison, creative director, HTW; worldwide creative director, Wunderman

This was the biggest Direct jury ever at Cannes. To keep them focused, I imposed a strict "no drinking, no sex" regime. This made me popular, particularly with the Australian juror on the former and the Italian on the latter.

I also told them what I was expecting of them. There's a difference between a pan-European mailing for HP and an ambient campaign for a local florist.

I wanted them to look out for tough briefs done brilliantly. And I was anxious to avoid the regional voting that blights international shows.

Thankfully, no mention was ever made of which country a piece of work came from.

This approach did not mean there was peace and harmony, but it was ideological rather than national differences that separated us. Most from the definition of DM. Some clung to a traditional one that started with data and ended with results. Others concentrated solely upon the impact of the creative idea. Thankfully most gold Lions winners combined elements of both.

But it wasn't easy when the Grand Prix came down to two excellent pieces.

The first was "need a job": a direct mailpack aimed at persuading HR managers to buy a pensions booklet. The second was a multimedia campaign for Lynx that promoted a (fictional) LynxJet airline.

"Need a job" was a worthy winner, but I must admit that I voted for LynxJet.

Because, while the former was driven by a brilliant creative idea, the latter was the best brand response campaign.

Was I disappointed? Nah. I'd had my say. Indeed, I made sure everyone was able to talk up any piece that they felt passionately about. That way, I hope all the judges went away feeling they'd been heard. After all, while I was keen they remained focused through my "no sex" rule, I didn't want anyone to go home feeling like they'd been screwed.

RADIO - Jim Thornton, executive creative director, Leo Burnett London

"Oh God, you haven't given the Grand Prix to Bud Light again," seemed to be the response of the majority of assorted drunks and ne'er-do-wells I bumped into on the Croisette after the Radio Lions press conference.

Well, yes we did. Pretty unanimously as it turned out.

"But it's so old. It can't be good for the same campaign to win year after year. The Grand Prix should be for the new, the different, the bold."

Well, bollocks to that, quite frankly.

Because according to the rules of the "innovistas", Heineken, Hamlet, Carling Black Label, John Smith's and countless other brilliant long-running campaigns would have been disregarded year after year merely because they already existed.

We pride ourselves on adding value to businesses by building brands through big ideas that become big campaigns across many media. Yet both agencies and clients are all too quick to dump these in pursuit of the new, and I'd argue that it's clients who are far guiltier than agencies of doing this. But given the 18-month lifespan of the average marketing director, it's sadly unsurprising that a combination of "not invented here" and CV-boosting strangles so many great campaigns in their infancy.

So for being bold, different and innovative, let's hear it for a client and agency who've retained both faith and passion in the Bud Light campaign over several years, once again producing the best-written and performed work amid some fantastic, inspiring and innovatively written and performed radio from all over the world. And not just one great Bud ad, but eight, each of which made a jury from all four corners of the globe smile at least twice. And laugh out loud at least once.

For innovation and boldness, listen to the Bluejet, Fiat, Coca-Cola and Guinness Book of Records work which all won gold Lions. But for unadulterated, sustained brilliance in a campaign written and designed for radio first and foremost, it's got to be Bud Light. Cheers.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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