Ask any UK creative team which award they would most like to win and the
answer would almost certainly be a D&AD Pencil.
Ask any creative team from anywhere else in the world which award they
would rather win and it would almost certainly be a Cannes Lion.
I do, of course, have the utmost respect for D&AD (and I know it does
attract some entries from outside the UK), but have we become so insular
that we think a predominantly home-grown award is more important than
the major international one? Isn’t that like saying the FA Cup is more
important than the World Cup?
To continue the football analogy, it wasn’t so long ago that the English
football league considered itself to be the best in the world. Now its
best player is a Frenchman who can’t get into the French side.
When a UK ad wins any international award, I’m the first to cheer. But
this last year I think that we’ve been in danger of resting on our
laurels. At the same time, regions like Australia, Scandinavia, Latin
America and Asia are hot on our heels producing better and better work.
Last year we had two wonderful contenders for the Cannes Grand Prix -
Volvo’s ‘twister’ and Levi’s ‘drugstore’. As it turned out, that jury in
its infinite wisdom decided not to award a Grand Prix at all.
This year, I can’t, off the top of my head, think of any UK ad that
deserves the Grand Prix. There have been some very good commercials, but
can you honestly think of anything that was head and shoulders above
anything else produced in the last year?
The best two campaigns that I’ve seen this year are from the US and are
both from the Cliff Freeman agency. The first, for Little Caesar Pizzas,
includes some of the funniest spots I’ve ever seen. The second, for
Prodigy computers, was at least directed by a Brit, the inimitable Tony
I really do think that UK advertising has got stuck in a bit of a rut.
Unless it’s shot in a particular way or by the director who’s flavour of
the day, it doesn’t stand a chance with most of our native awards
All too often we’re relying on direction rather than script. Whichever
ad wins the Grand Prix at Cannes - and it has to be awarded this year -
will, I’m sure, have excellent production values. But, more important,
it will have a great script. Production values will be a bonus, not the
reason why the jury chose the commercial.
Mike Cozens is creative director of Young and Rubicam