INTERNATIONAL: ISSUE - Bullish UK agencies set to match their 96 glory at Cannes/UK entrants are optimistic but the standard all round is high

The annual unbridled junket that is the Cannes International Advertising Festival takes place next week, and armchair advertising critics are already musing over who will win what in the prized film category.

The annual unbridled junket that is the Cannes International

Advertising Festival takes place next week, and armchair advertising

critics are already musing over who will win what in the prized film


Entries for this year’s battle for bronze, silver and gold lions are

dominated, as ever, by UK agencies in typically bullish form, having

taken home 51 lions last year, including 20 for film, and the Grand Prix

in the press and poster category.

Nike’s ’park life’ spot from the now-merged Simons Palmer leads the pack

- a strong contender for a gold lion in its category if not much more -

while Leagas Delaney’s beautifully executed ’Perfect Day’ film for BBC

Radio and TV is also set to score highly.

Fellow British entries likely to do well, having already captured

accolades in home-grown competitions, include Bartle Bogle Hegarty’s

Levi’s film, ’Kung Fu’ - Levi’s being a perennial favourite at the

festival - and the agency’s One 2 One film featuring Ian Wright and

Martin Luther King. Two of BMP DDB’s ’affordability’ ads for Volkswagen

- ’lamp post’ and ’tennis’- are also surely destined for recognition

from the jury.

The US is the next up, with strong films for Budweiser, Nike and Miller

Lite jostling for prizes. This year’s Budweiser ads, by DDB Needham

Chicago, play on the amusingly scripted antics of a couple of animated

lizards determined to thwart the Budweiser frogs of earlier campaigns.

The American Nike films are probably not as strong as either ’park life’

or the Weiden & Kennedy Amsterdam spot - also an entrant - featuring the

Brazil national team having a kickabout in an airport.

Some of the best work from the US is produced for media owner clients

such as Home Box Office and the Fox Network - the Home Box Office film

featuring a series of characters sporting absurd hair-cuts who are later

revealed all to have the same barber, ’Carl’, an HBO subscriber since

1976 who is constantly distracted by the TV as he cuts his clients’


France has created possibly the most technically brilliant commercial of

the festival, for Perrier. The ’Edith Piaf’ film, from Publicis Conseil

Paris, features characters from posters on the walls in a bar coming to

life when a girl opens a bottle of Perrier.

The French have also produced a curious collection of films for the

Cachou Lajunie liquorice sweets, all of which last three seconds and

consist of alarmingly hallucinogenic images such as a woman giving birth

to a shoe and a head coming out of a bowl of soup.

Like these French entrants, there are a number of films based on

provocative creative ideas that could also attract attention. A film

from the Netherlands, for example, features a family sitting in their

car and the father selecting a tape for their journey. A catchy tune

pipes up with the repeated line ’I wanna fuck you in the ass’ to the

delight of the family. The ad is for a language training centre and ends

with the line: ’Want to learn English?’

Singapore provides a 90s variation on the Smash Martians in a commercial

for the Hewlett Packard Photoret 11 Printer, in which the US ground

control supervising the 1997 space mission to Mars is duped into

thinking the planet is boring by a series of pictures (taken off the

printer) of a dull, red landscape being held up to the remote-control

camera by two martians. Behind the pictures, an altogether different

scene is revealed, bustling with green characters, space ships and

martian buildings.

A Norwegian film for Toyota Corolla also provides a rare laugh in the

car advertising category, featuring a series of drivers crashing into

trees and other cars as their attention is distracted by a beautiful

girl bouncing along a street. She, in turn, is distracted by the sight

of a Toyota Corolla and walks straight into a lamp-post.

But one film to watch could be from last year’s Grand Prix-winning

advertiser, Diesel - already announced as advertiser of the year for

this festival - with a particularly classy commercial through its

Swedish agency. The grainy black and white film, in its ’for successful

living’ campaign, is set in Korea and features a teenager having a

generally bad day, culminating in even his attempts to commit suicide by

jumping off a bridge being thwarted by a passing truck.

Next week looks set to be a typically powerful celebration of

international creativity on the Cote d’Azur. The UK will no doubt be

hoping to do better than its best year to date - 1996 - and beat the US

to the most number of lions in the film category. But there is stiff

competition from elsewhere and the anti-UK spirit that denied

Blackcurrant Tango the film Grand Prix last year is likely to persist.