CAMPAIGN CRAFT: COLUMN; International awards provide a true creative test

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 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