DENNIS RYAN, executive creative director, J. Walter Thompson,
The team sport of advertising teaches lessons every day, so it is no
surprise that spending eight days in a windowless room in the south of
France, as part of this year's 23-member Cannes film jury, taught me a
whole new set of lessons. Not the least of which is to pack Visine.
With the advent of computer scoring linked to each judge's nationality,
the festival's legendary regional factionalism played a much smaller
role in selecting this year's winners, yet it did not disappear
But these advances, coupled with the jury chairman Bob Isherwood's
oft-stated objective to emphasise integrity in the judging, definitely
changed the final result.
The jurors ferrited out almost two-dozen scam ads. Despite a record
number of entries, we rewarded slightly fewer Lions this year, but
happily, the end result played very well to Saturday night's audience at
The fiercely partisan crowd whistled, but far less than in previous
So what did I learn regarding how to win a Lion next year? Sadly,
nothing specific. Unlike test scores, where clever manipulation can
cause a spike by adding various elements (say the name, say the name ...
oh, and show puppies), there isn't a template for winning a Lion. The
jury changes every year, thus tastes change as different personal
opinions move to the fore. This is healthy. Advertising is a personal
art, and creating consensus among 23 highly opinionated creatives from
all corners of the globe will never be a matter of inserting "tab A"
into "slot B".
Some guidelines nevertheless did bubble up. If any of the following
synopsise your spot, you might be in trouble:
- The actor makes love to a what?!
- The actress gives birth to a what?!
- The charming toddler embarrasses adults by saying what?!
Among the 6,000-plus entries, we were treated to images such as a CG
mustard bottle engaged in sexual congress with a bag of potato chips;
Jesus Christ waxing benevolent as a spokesman for Renault; and more
belching men, farting babies and pissing dogs than need dictates. Along
that vein, urinals, breasts and men in gorilla suits should probably be
put out to pasture for a while.
As far as trends go, ugly, unlit, grainy "reality" film has become so
epidemic and injudiciously applied that it is now the equivalent of a
previous generation's morphing.
Under the heading of "slapped in the face with irony", it was extremely
bizarre to watch chain-smoking judges punch in big numbers for Crispin
Porter Bogusky's anti-smoking campaign "truth".
America's conventional wisdom that the dialogue-free Nike "freestyle"
spot was a sure winner failed spectacularly as dialogue-heavy spots
earned jury approval. With the notable exception of Bartle Bogle
Hegarty's "hero's return" for Stella Artois. The comic stereotypes had
the two French jurors spitting pate through clenched teeth.
Oh, and after watching more TV than when I got my wisdom teeth removed,
you will earn any jury's appreciation if you choose between the two end
jokes you shot for your spot rather than leaving that up to a
bleary-eyed and cantankerous jury.
Those are my lessons learned from the Cote d'Azur. Now to return to my
Chicago home and start working on a tan.
PATRICK COLLISTER, executive creative director, ehsrealtime.
I've lost count of the number of people who have asked me since I
returned from Cannes: "Did you have a good holiday?" At least as many as
the awards we dished out, 49 in all.
Maybe Cannes used to be a jolly in the sun, but these days it's the
place to spot emerging trends in advertising. Not up at the Colombe
d'Or, feasting, but at the Festival, looking at the work.
So what trends were evident among the 1,500 new-media entries? First,
e-commerce is alive and well, despite all the loose talk about "dotcom
Nikeid (nikeid.nike.com), designed by Critical Mass in Canada, was a
worthy Grand Prix winner. It's a perfect example of how to trade
ingeniously on the web. Design your own shoe online, layer by layer, in
Get it made to your own specifications and buy it with a click.
So much for shoes. What about socks? Well, we also gave a gold to
10socks.com, a neat example of how the internet encourages small
businesses to reach out to global markets.
We awarded a second Grand Prix to Milko Music Machine. Here a brand of
chocolate encourages you to download images of a mooching cow, remix the
music and make your own promo.
And that was another emergent trend. The use of humour. In the past,
there hasn't been much of what juror Matt Freeman of Tribal DDB calls
"e-motion" but this year there were some very funny entries.
We gave a gold to Forsman & Bodenfors' Salvation Army banner. Look for
it at demo.fb.se/salvationarmy/givehtml.
Strangely, the two most talked-about sites didn't win a bean. That was
because they weren't entered.
BMWFilms.com is utter brilliance from Fallon. Six top directors have
shot short films for and about BMW. Guy Ritchie's six-minute epic, The
Driver, gives us Madonna wetting herself in the back of an M5.
For the first time, I think, rather than passively accepting brand
advertising, consumers will actively go out and search for it. Is this a
sea-change or what?
Absolutdirector.com is equally significant. Why should advertisers
bother to spend money above the line when their core target group can
create their own ads and mail them on? This way, millions get to see
thousands of different little films.
If BMWFilms.com is a brilliant new channel for an old medium like TV
advertising, then Absolut and Milko reveal the possibilities of new
Involving, creative and interactive.
Being a juror was an honour and an education. The jury was the least
political and the most open-minded of any I have ever sat on. Maybe this
was because we were chaired by a lady. Carla Hendra, the chief executive
of OgilvyOne in New York, kept us in line with a Miss Marple-ish mix of
charm and steel.
CHRIS INGRAM, chairman, Tempus Group.
We know that day-to-day media function is largely concerned with
systems, processes, research and price. That's fine, clients need to be
reassured that their money is being spent responsibly. However, media
innovation is too often an afterthought, so given the amount of scope
there now is to be creative in media, the Cannes Media Lions unashamedly
concentrates on just that.
A number of ideas that were entered were quite simple, but had a totally
disproportionate impact. The following are four that caught my eye.
In Slovenia there is a big problem with drink and driving - and the
penalty is not very severe. The challenge was to get people to take
Mediamix Monitor had the great idea of putting the message at the bottom
of beer glasses. The right audience and with perfect timing.
For similar reasons I liked the Brazilian entry in the Outdoor section
for Sanador Deodorant. Deodorant advertising around the world is
overwhelmingly concentrated on television, so it was good to see that
the Brazilian agency Upper (yes, another unknown) had persuaded the
Municipal Authorities to carry strips on the bars that bus passengers
grab hold of to prevent themselves from falling over. Passengers have to
raise their arms to hang on, as do all those around them, so you're
acutely aware of sweaty armpits.
Again the timing of the message could not have been bettered.
It's difficult to explain the winning entry in the television category
without a video, but DDB's media department in Auckland took advantage
of the time delay for sports coverage that is common in New Zealand to
promote their brand, Cadbury's Minties, which over eight years ago had
built its brand around sports "bloopers".
Using the 60- to 90-minute delay, whenever "bloopers" occurred the
agency worked with the TV3 station to pull across the bottom of the
screen: "It's moments like these you need Minties" as the funny moment
occurred. This was an unusual situation where the media solution became
a great creative idea - and awareness and usage increased
The overall winner was for an anti-smoking campaign in Florida. The
creative work, produced by Crispin Porter Bogusky, was a two-minute TV
commercial, "secrets of a tobacco executive", which is produced as a
very dramatic, but spoof, trailer for a forthcoming movie.
To make this even more like a film release, they ran the music trailers
in theatres immediately before the real trailers; they put in-theatre
promotional posters for "the movie"; they used all the classic movie
outdoor sites and promoted the non-existent movie in Blockbuster Video
This was a case of the media team making great creative work go even
further and the results on teenage smoking were extraordinary.
By now you're wondering why I haven't mentioned any of the big media
agencies among the winners. In truth, they didn't do very well.
There were three main reasons for this. If you eliminate resources and
sophisticated expertise from the mix and concentrate on innovation, then
anyone with a good idea and real persistence to pull it off can win -
and they did!
Second, the leading media agencies from western Europe are all
experienced at entering media awards and they assumed the system would
be the same at Cannes, with lots of interest in the process. It should
have been made clearer, but it just wasn't like that. So a number of
media agencies submitted well-written, solid, professional entries and
left most of their innovative ideas behind.
Finally, this is only the third year of these awards and some countries,
such as Italy, don't seem aware of their existence. Others, including
the Brazilians, are already hugely enthusiastic, just as they are in the
The standard was uneven this year with no awards in four categories, but
the best was really good and passed the jury's "I wish I'd thought of
that!" test. Next year, I'm sure there will be more entries and some
much sharper ideas from western Europe.
That's good: it'll raise the bar for everyone.