Feature: Cannes Report

Last month's festival found the judges in tough mood, with only 15 Gold Lions awarded. However, there is no doubting the quality of the winners.

Heated discussions, controversy, waving fists, door-slamming? There was none of that on this year's judging panel, as the jury had no problem agreeing on the shining stars. According to jury president and founder of Goodby Silverstein & Partners, Jeff Goodby, the overall standard was so low that real talent shouted out.

This year's film jury was the harshest on record, awarding just 15 Gold Lions, two fewer than the notorious 1995 jury, headed by Frank Lowe, which didn't even award a Grand Prix that year. However, Goodby said that although the average was low, the handful of films that won awards were "so fantastic, they were stronger than other years".

Out of the 15 Gold Lions awarded, the UK came out top taking home seven, the US won four, while Argentina, Canada, France and Singapore each earned one. But it was the USA that scooped the most Gold, Silver and Bronze Lions in total.

The Film Grand Prix went to Nike's 'Tag' directed by Gorgeous' Frank Budgen and created by Wieden and Kennedy Portland, which wowed the judges unanimously with its incredible production values and also scooped the journalists' award and the Lion for excellence in music. On Nike's 'Tag', Goodby says: "It's not just the creative but a great piece of thinking."

Largely on the back of Budgen's performance this year, the Palme D'Or for best production company was handed to Gorgeous Enterprises. The award hasn't gone to a UK-based production company for over a decade.

Other TV ads to impress the jury included Levi's 'Odyssey', which won a Gold Lion, while Leagas Delaney Paris' three spots for Ikea won a Gold Lion for its humour as did TBWA/Chiat/Day's campaign for Fox Sports' baseball.

While Bartle Bogle Hegarty/Microsoft Xbox 'Champagne', was tipped as a hot contender for the Grand Prix, the agency had to settle for a Gold Lion. The ad has also provoked considerable controversy. It was pulled in the UK after TV viewers lodged complaints about it's morbidity to the ITC and a French independent filmmaker filed a suit against Microsoft in Paris, alleging that the 'birth to death' concept in the spot was copied from her short film, 'Life'.

On the strength of its two Gold Lions in the film category for Club 18-30 'Doggie Style' and NSPCC 'Cartoon', and the Grand Prix for this year's press and poster competition for Club 18-30, Saatchi & Saatchi, London, was deservedly named Agency of the Year.

In terms of themes, Goodby said that there were no obvious trends, which he commended, and while humour was prevalent in many of last year's awards, he noted there were no major patterns this year. "Humour tends to have quite a big role to play in this show anyway. There were, however, a huge amount of dogs and lots of girls in bikinis," he said.

The judges felt that the economic slowdown did not affect the standard of work. In fact, Goodby said it could have the reverse effect offering a few great scripts to the world's best talent.

One of the most ardent debates was not about what to include, but what to leave out. Although the Fallon/Minneapolis' BMW Films campaign was banned from entering the Film competition because of length requirements, it had passionate support. It also failed to land a Media Lion but won the Cyber Grand Prix because some judges believed the hook was not in the media, but in the creative. "It's about the films, but it's not a media idea as such," says Juror, Dirk Wiedenmann, CEO, Initiative Media. Goodby said the festival needed to get more progressive and create a new category for short films or long commercials.

So as the average standard was much lower compared to other years, are there any tips for future contenders? "In Hitchcock movies you always know who the bad guy is - you just watch the other people to find out. Ads must have that same kind of tension and mystery," advises Goodby.

The jury also recommend that people should come up with fresh ideas because if it's been seen before, it won't win. "We saw over 400 new mascots this year," complained one judges.

Our Cannes report contains coverage from the press conference as well as the comments from the Jury and the winners reactions on awards night.

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