The UK's only awards came for Leo Burnett, which picked up three bronzes for its "anti-drink-driving message" for the Department for Transport.
Matthew Bull, the jury president and the chief creative officer of Lowe Worldwide, said: "When we started the judging, we had a set of criteria for judging, such as freshness and bravery of the client, and the Virgin Atlantic work ticked all of these boxes. Plus, it was insightful, impactful and better every time you heard it."
The awards also saw just one gold Lion given out, for Devito/Verdi New York's work for National Thoroughbred, and just two silvers. These were DDB Chicago's "Mr golf tournament quiet sign holder" for Bud Light and Grey Istanbul's "street" for Google Turkey.
Overall, the number of entries was down significantly and the jurors agreed that the quality of work was reflected in the eventual number of Lions handed out, which was much lower than last year.
Ewan Paterson, a juror and the executive creative director at CHI & Partners, agreed that this was also the case for the UK, where entries slipped from 39 in 2008 to 27 in 2009.
Paterson said: "I think what has happened is that when you have something good you put it in for the awards – when you have something borderline, it used to be that you put it in as well. This year I think there has been a lack of borderline entries."
He continued: "It's also interesting to note that all but one of the shortlisted campaigns in the UK were for the Government (and two of those were for the Department for Transport), so maybe UK clients aren't buying into radio or agencies aren't pushing hard enough for it."
More from Cannes Lions 2009