A few weeks ago, Wieden & Kennedy London's "cog" spot for Honda Accord seemed like a shoe-in for a Lion at Cannes, if not the Grand Prix. But the ad that was lauded in the advertising press suddenly found itself in the headlines for the wrong reasons, with two Swiss artists claiming that it was a rip-off.
Nonetheless, it still stands out as a distinctive piece of work -- traditional speeding car shots, no car, no road, no music, but a silent ballet of the pieces of a Honda Accord, and a simple endline: "Isn't it nice when things just work". It must have been painfully ironic for the production team on the ad, which took five months and 606 takes to complete.
Dave Droga, creative director for Publicis Worldwide, acknowledges the controversy surround the creativity in the ad, but still believes that it is a deserving winner. "I wish I'd thought of it. I think it's a fabulous piece of film," he says.
Car ads look to be in the running for several prizes this year, with the Peugeot "sculptor" ad, showing an Indian man remodelling his car by crashing it into walls and having an elephant sit on it, is popular in many of the markets where it has been shown. It was created by the Italian agency Euro RSCG MCM.
Andrew Falkson, art director at Herdbuoys McCann-Erickson in South Africa, is one who cites the ad as a favourite, as does Droga.
From the US, "sheet metal", created by Goodby Silverstein & Partners for the car brand Saturn is widely tipped as another mould-breaking car ad. It features people behaving like vehicles, stopping at traffic lights to show how Saturn doesn't see cars as sheet metal, but sees "the people who may one day drive them".
Bartle Bogle Hegarty's "bull", "fish" and "influence" spots for Audi are also tipped.
Other UK ads to be named in the running for Lions are TBWA\London's John Smith spots, starring the comedian Peter Kay. The ads have already picked up pencils at this year's D&AD awards, and could do the same in Cannes -- depending how the international jury take to Kay's insensitive comments to his daughter in "monster". The campaign was directed by Daniel Kleinman, no stranger to the winner's podium in Cannes.
Russell Ramsey, creative group head at Bartle Bogle Hegarty, likes the stylish BBC idents, created by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO and directed by Tom Carty, showing death-defying leaps across the rooftops of London, and AMV's work for Xcite chewing gum, which was banned in the UK after hundreds of complaints over a scene where a man regurgitates a dog.
"It really stands out, and that's one of the key things if people are watching hundreds of commercials," says Ramsey.
The Fox Network advertising campaign from the US, created by TBWA\Chiat\Day, is tipped for Lions, where common wisdom has it that visually strong ads tend to do well. But there is a dissenting voice in BBH's Ramsey, who says he thinks the violent "dumpster" spot is derivative of another US campaign which appeared last year, for Mike's Hard Lemonade.
Fox was a winner in 2001 when a Cliff Freeman & Partners spot for Fox Sport won in 2001 beating out Leo Burnett's John West Salmon. It was another high-impact ad featuring people jumping from cliffs in Turkey.
Droga is a fan of the Spike Jonze-directed "lamp", created by Crispin Porter & Bogusky Miami for Ikea and shown in the US, and starring shows a weeping lamp and an aggressive Swede.
Nike's "angry chicken", by Wieden & Kennedy Portland, is also tipped for a gong -- and it would be unusual for Nike's advertising to go unrecognised at Cannes.
If humour is the order of the day, several South African spots could do well -- although the quirky humour of Herdbuoys McCann-Erickson's anti-smoking spot for Smoke Enders might not translate. It features a group of smokers standing outside on the balcony of a high-rise building. As another smoker is about to go out, the balcony collapses and the ad finishes with the line: "See. We told you smoking would kill you."
Michael Nyrop-Larsen, art director from the Danish agency, Robert/Boisen & Like-Minded, picks two Scandinavian ads as potential winners. From Norway is a spot for the fish oil brand Mollers Tran, created by New Deal DDB in Oslo. It shows a kid drinking from the bottle then replacing the lid. It's done its work so well that the father tries to open the bottle but fails because the lid is screwed on so tight. And from Forsman & Bodnfors in Sweden is a spot for the telephone company Tele 2, making a point about large phone bills with a group of men all answering to the name "Bill".
But in the end, these are most likely long shots for awards this year, with Cannes 2003 looking set to be the year of the car ad.
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