Cannes Grand Prix winners 'less likely to resonate emotionally'

The research examined Grand Prix and Gold Lions winners in the film category

It's a Tide Ad: the only Grand Prix to score top marks
It's a Tide Ad: the only Grand Prix to score top marks

Cannes Lions Grand Prix winners are less likely to strike an emotional chord with consumers than Gold Lions winners, with five out of 11 Film Lions Grand Prix winners in the past 10 years identified as the least emotionally effective ads, scoring one on a scale of one to five.

Of the 75 Grand Prix and Gold Lion winners tested, six ads scored a five. Of these, just one was a Grand Prix winner: Procter & Gamble's "It's a tide ad" from 2018, created by Saatchi & Saatchi, which ran during the Super Bowl and featured Stranger Things actor Jim Hopper as an omniscient narrator hijacking other ads during the game. Three of the top scoring ads were from the US. 

The findings are from System1, an effectiveness prediction agency. The tests used System1’s Ad Ratings tool, which measures the emotional response to every ad on TV in major categories to predict their likely effectiveness.

The five Grand Prix winners to score one included two for Harvey Nichols by Adam & Eve/DDB: 2014's "Sorry I spent it on myself", and 2016's "Shoplifters", along with Procter & Gamble’s "The talk", created by BBDO New York in 2018, which addressed the conversations African American parents are forced to have with their kids about racism.

The other two were the 2015 Saatchi & Saatchi Sao Paolo "100" campaign for Leica and the 2012 spot for Chipotle, "Back to the start", from CAA Marketing.

System1 said that when it comes to the highest (Grand Prix) awards, "juries prioritise edginess over emotional effectiveness, and while these ads show an abundance of creative flair, they fail to resonate emotionally with viewers".

Findings showed that overall, Gold Lions and Grand Prix winners were three times more likely to score well with ordinary viewers than the average TV ad, with 53% of award-winners scoring three stars or higher, compared with only 16% of all Ad Ratings ads. System1 said that awarded ads were also eight times more likely to get the top, five-star score, "predicting exceptional effectiveness and growth potential".

Some of the best performing campaigns from the UK were Channel 4's "We're the superhumans", a Grand Prix winner in 2017, which scored a four, and its 2013 Gold Lion campaign, "Meet the superhumans", which scored three. Both were created in-house by 4Creative.

The 2014 Adam & Eve/DDB "Neglect" campaign for Unilever's Marmite, a Gold Lion winner that plays on the idea that Marmite is being neglected, received a three.

Alongside P&G's ad for Tide, the other campaigns from the US that received the highest points were P&G's 2012 "Best job" campaign for the London 2012 Olympics, created by Wieden & Kennedy, which  focused on the hard work mothers do to support their children, and the Volkswagen spot "The force", created by Deutsch, showcasing a Lilliputian Darth Vader wannabe. 

John Kearon, CEO at System1, said: "When you take emotion as your main measure, testing becomes more accurate and far better at spotting great creativity. But we also found a disconnect between juries’ critical response and people’s emotional response at the very highest level of the Cannes Lions event."

UK winners

Year Brand Ad Award Level Stars
2017 Channel 4 We're The Superhumans Grand Prix 4
2013 Dove Camera Shy Gold Lion 4
2013 Channel 4 Meet The Superhumans Gold Lion 3
2012 Doritos Dips Desperado Gold Lion 3
2014 Marmite Neglect Gold Lion 3
2018 Nike Nothing Beats A Londoner Gold Lion 3
2018 Marmite The Gene Project Gold Lion 2
2012 The Guardian The Three Little Pigs Gold Lion 2
2018 Audi Clowns Gold Lion 1
2016 Harvey Nichols Shoplifters Grand Prix 1
2015 Beats By DRE The Game Before The Game Gold Lion 1
2016 Guinness Never Alone Gold Lion 1
2015 Guinness Made Of Black Gold Lion 1
2015 Honda The Other Side Gold Lion 1
2014 Harvey Nichols Sorry, I Spent It On Myself Grand Prix 1
2016 Bodyform Blood Gold Lion 1

US winners

Year Brand Ad Award Stars
2012 Procter & Gamble Best Job Gold Lion 5
2011 Volkswagen The Force Gold Lion 5
2018 Tide It's A Tide Ad Grand Prix 5
2015 Nike Ripple Gold Lion 4
2015 Always Like A Girl Gold Lion 4
2014 Volvo Epic Split Grand Prix 3
2016 Under Armour Rule Yourself Gold Lion 3
2010 Old Spice The Man Your Man Could Smell Like Grand Prix 3
2015 Gatorade Made In NY Gold Lion 3
2014 Nike Possibilities Gold Lion 3
2016 Geico Fast Forward: Forest Gold Lion 3
2018 Apple Welcome Home Gold Lion 3
2010 Axe Clean Your Balls Gold Lion 3
2014 Sony PS4 Perfect Day Gold Lion 3
2011 Chrysler Born Of Fire Gold Lion 3
2011 Google Speed Tests Gold Lion 3
2015 Geico Unskippable Grand Prix 2
2015 Old Spice Dadsong Gold Lion 2
2011 Nike Write The Future Grand Prix 2
2014 Wren First Kiss Gold Lion 2
2013 Southern Comfort Beach Gold Lion 2
2012 Chipotle Back To The Start Grand Prix 1
2017 Old Spice Five Year Plan Gold Lion 1
2016 Old Spice Rocket Car Gold Lion 1
2010 Argentina New Cinema Crying Gold Lion 1
2013 Axe Susan Glenn Gold Lion 1
2017 New York Times The Truth Is Hard To Find Gold Lion 1
2016 Old Spice Whale Gold Lion 1
2018 P&G The Talk Grand Prix 1
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