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
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.