The Week: Close-Up - How Cannes 2009 was won

The joy of winning or the agony of losing lay in the hands of the jurors. Here they explain the reasons behind their decisions.

FILM - Dave Lubars, chairman and chief creative officer, BBDO North America

Atmospherically, Cannes 2009 wasn't the Gomorrah-like Bacchanal of the past few years, but it did contain a drunken orgy of brilliant work. I was honoured to be Press and Film president, so I was able to see a wide swath of the world's best output.

In an economy where clients have had to cut back and do less, we rewarded work that used creativity in its most unbridled and passionate forms to accomplish more. This is why you didn't see scam ads or many trifle accounts - we recognised and awarded real clients with complex problems that used big solutions to solve them.

We wanted the show to function as a tool for clients and agencies, we wanted it to point the way forward. Our Grand Prix selection, Philips' "carousel", is a prime example of forward thinking. Not only is it a remarkable, highly watchable film in its own right, but viewers could scroll across the piece online to discover films hidden within the film. One winds up spending ten or 11 minutes with the brand voluntarily - what is that worth to a client?

The UK did quite well, contributing its usual combination of intelligence, master craftsmanship and surprising delight. My personal favourites were the Stella Artois "smooth original" films, the T-Mobile "dance" spot and the work for the Museum of Childhood by our cousin agency Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO. These pieces are as good as it gets.

London's big issue isn't its creative brainpower or talent - it seems to be as strong as it's ever been. But there does seem to be a bit of a lag in embracing new forms and exploring not-as-comfortable media. There is no doubt once you do, the work will demonstrate the same unique brilliance you're already known for.

PRESS - Adam Scholes, creative director, JWT London

If you ever find yourself on a jury in Cannes, one thing you'll notice is how popular you suddenly become. I have never had so many gifts sent up to my room before: Turkish Delight, Brazilian liqueur, cakes, books, films and even a pair of earrings. Obviously, such blatant attempts to sway the jury were ignored.

As a whole, apart from a couple of incidents of "block voting", it was an honest and outspoken jury, and I think people will have very few things to argue about with our choices.

Given that we are in a global recession, what I found interesting was that some industries seem to be doing surprisingly well (judging by the number of campaigns that they entered, anyway).

The pen industry is doing fine. As are torches, Post-it notes and Scrabble. Ads for sharp knives were plentiful too. Memo to Russell (Ramsey, the executive creative director of JWT): Get sharp knife account, they buy great work and seem to have big enough media budgets to run full-colour-double-page spreads.

Truth be told, some of the work felt a bit formulaic. The kind of work that might have won in Cannes six or seven years ago but seems predictable now. There was some great work too. The Wrangler campaign stood out in particular for being brave and fresh.

This year, it was important that Cannes didn't become a beauty contest for ads seemingly written to impress an awards jury. So, the message is clear. If you want to win a Cannes Lion next year, take a risk and do something different. Something that does a real job for a real client.

Finally, to the gentleman who sidled up to me in the Gutter Bar one night and drunkenly begged: "Andy, please vote my campaign a gold." If I see Andy, I'll tell him. In the meantime, the name's Adam.

MEDIA - Daren Rubins managing director, PHD

For someone obsessed with good ideas, the opportunity to review the very best work from around the globe while basking in Cannes sunshine sounded too good to be true. Unfortunately, it was. The work was inspiring and the people were great. I just didn't get to see the sun.

Instead, we judged almost 1,900 entries; analysing, debating and scoring each and every one and, in the end, three things stood out.

1. Good ideas come from anywhere.

If you suffer from a misapprehension that all innovation sits in the digital space, take a look at Nissan's use of cinema (my personal favourite), Lexus' use of magazines or AEG's use of outdoor. And I might be biased, but Sage's use of ad-funded programming is up there with the best of them.

2. Good ideas come from anywhere

Living in one of the most progressive, creative markets in the world, it's easy to dismiss the contributions of the smaller and less established markets. Not last week. I would urge anyone interested in good ideas to look at the gold Lions awarded to Belgium, India and the Dominican Republic.

3. Good ideas come from anywhere

A glance at the shortlist shows these awards were not limited to media agency submissions. And while several creative agencies won rightful plaudits for brilliant media thinking, others entered work that was driven by the media agency. But that's our fault, not theirs. Media companies are either lacking confidence in their work or won't fork out for multiple submissions. If UK media agencies truly believe in their ideas, we all need to start putting our money where our mouths are.

CYBER - Iain Tate, creative director, Poke London

Last week, I spent six days in Cannes. I was spared the glitz, the glamour and the Gutter due to a stint on the Cyber jury. We were holed up in a windowless concrete bunker with a bunch of interactive work to look at. So, what's new?

No-one cares about your bloody microsite. In 2009, the flashy high production value microsite is finally starting to feel irrelevant. Sites that seem to do everything, but deliver nothing. Sites that have historically won awards, acclaim and traffic (thanks to the global design and web communities). Sites that normal people never visit.

There were plenty of entries that looked great on paper. Things that might work - in theory - but that anyone with any experience of the web would have known, implicitly, were fundamentally screwed. We should applaud online experimentation, but not stupidity. Results have finally become part of the creative conversation. In a social media, surely it's impossible to separate the two? Take the multi-Grand Prix-winning "the best job in the world" campaign. The campaign was its results. People getting involved, applying and creating videos became the fabric of the campaign. Without them, it would have just been a few job ads and a microsite.

If you look across all of this year's Cyber Lions, a pattern emerges. At the more progressive end of the industry, things are shifting to a world of socially resonant ideas, conversations and results. But, equally, great traditional online advertising, done well, is still winning awards. Both have their place, for now, and both have UK agencies able to deliver them at the highest level.

OUTDOOR - Graham Fink executive creative director, M&C Saatchi

Bleep bleep fucking bleep. Twelve international judges armed with supermarket checkout scanners read 4,498 barcodes over four days. The good, the bad and the bleeping ugly.

I don't think posters should be presented in A2 plastic folders, but that's what we got. Dutifully scanning each ad in turn and then, on a separate sheet, adding a score between one and nine. Even if you mark low, the top 10 per cent in each category still go through to the shortlist.

And that's where it got interesting. In the first five minutes, a nice poster (bronze, in my opinion) got booted out as it was deemed "bleeping crap" by most of the United Nations.

With Argentinians and Aussies in the room, it wasn't short of passion. And all the better for it. I wondered why 90 per cent of people had wasted their money on the entry fee. It would have been better spent on an advertising course.

Anything that needed local explanation was history. But I did have a bleeping good go at rescuing the initially doomed Harvey Nichols posters. Trying to explain about a place in England called Bristol where an animator called Nick Park resides who created these characters called Wallace and Gromit that wore these clothes by famous designers such as Alexander McQueen for a retail shop called Harvey Nichols ... 12 pairs of eyes stared hard at me ... scratched their heads ... but finally raised their hands.

From bin to bronze in two shakes of Gromit's tail. Jeremy Craigen, the executive creative director of DDB London, if you're reading this, you owe me some fine rose. But for all the opposing worldly views, we ended up with strong work. Oasis and Earth Hour were excellent. But printing messages on real Zimbabwean money because it's worthless was well worthy of the Grand Prix.

Bleeping great.

TITANIUM AND INTEGRATED - Mark Cridge, chief executive, glue London

Superlatives rule when judging integrated work. As it has become the fashion to submit awards entries as a four- or five-minute video presentation of the work, all the usual rules we seem to apply to the work itself get thrown out of the window.

Suffering from meandering sloppy production, over-the-top commentary and unsubstantiated results peppered throughout, all wrapped up with a plethora of PR mentions on obscure blogs and TV news programmes, they often got in the way of the work. My favourite quote was the viral that had been seen in just over 100 countries, which was described as reaching a remarkable 47 per cent of the world's population - quite fantastic.

However, none of this should take away from what I think was a remarkable collection of great work on the shortlist and some very worthy winners. It's fair to say that the Obama campaign dominated proceedings, an overarching presence throughout the week of judging. Pretty much all of the conversations that we had were in reference either to the Obama work itself, or how other work compared in comparison.

A truly defining campaign, it won both Grands Prix easily, encompassing and summarising all of the many changes and transformations that have buffeted our industry over the past few years: the rise of digital, the increased consumer control, the fragmentation of media and the changing requirements of the creative agency.

The Obama campaign drew the outlines for others to fill in. A worthy Titanium, the definition of integration.

DIRECT - Steve Aldridge chairman and creative partner, Partners Andrews Aldridge

Perhaps Claire Beale is right when she suggests that the time for excuses for not winning at Cannes is over and we must accept that we're not good enough. But I would say, it's not that our work isn't good enough, it's just not right for Cannes and an international jury. I think the nature of the work being produced in the world today has changed and, with it, the expectations of Cannes juries. The bigger questions for us in the UK market are twofold.

1. Are we prepared to change?

2. Do we want to?

For years, the UK has produced quality advertising that works in a certain way. We believe in a conceptual idea. The reality is, lots of the work that wins at Cannes doesn't have a conceptual idea at its heart. It has what I would describe as an "organising thought" at its core. This is something that corrals an emotion - often through a look and feel.

As Dave Droga says: "Often we start by designing a logo." This is very different from the kind of advertising we believe is award-winning in the UK. Organising thoughts are becoming more and more prevalent. Clearly they have mass appeal, clearly they connect with consumers (and judges), clearly they make consumers act. And they work quickly, without the need to decode them - something I suggest all our clients want.

Perhaps if our industry embraces change and a global creative market, we will start bringing home the Cannes trophies in greater numbers. Assuming, of course, that we can make a few more international friends when it comes to the voting alliances.

RADIO - Matthew Bull chief creative officer, Lowe Worldwide

Without a doubt, presiding over the radio jury at Cannes this year was one of my best judging experiences. I'm afraid it didn't have a lot to do with the quality of the work, more with the quality of the judges and the process of judging that Cannes has devised.

As a group, we set out to reward work we believed was exceptional, and not just hand out awards like confetti at yet another Manchester United triumph. We looked for work that had a unique idea, was beautifully executed and needed a brave and visionary client to buy it - something that is not always taken into consideration by juries, which often enables cheat-work to win.

We found only two gold Lions, two silvers and 11 bronzes out of 1,200 entries. We did not have a lot to work with, I assure you. There is a significant lack of innovation in radio - no connection to the digital world, nothing unusual at all - and that is why it is lagging behind the other disciplines.

Radio is, quite simply, a significant opportunity for clients and agencies.

The media category turned up with the most innovative work. In integrated, how the Flora campaign for "Wally's heart" (D&AD silver Pencil) never won caused amazement among all and sundry, not to mention the Wrangler Grand Prix winner in press - but I have to say that, setting those debacles aside, it was the best Cannes I've been to in years. Great work, great talks, and the right balance between work and play - a significant change from the past three years. Cannes is great.

PR - Penny Furniss, creative director, Sputnik Communications

There was almost complete consensus among the jury about what was good, which was a relief and a pleasant surprise. And it was almost exclusively multi-channel expressions of a brilliant idea. I had a moment of epiphany about what the new PR is. The traditional static view of the media world routinely places advertising, media and digital in their own hermetic boxes. This completely misses the point of the anarchic, overlapping quantum world in which all of these separate forces collide and collude as never before. In this quantum world, PR is the Higgs boson - the enabling particle. It is all about accelerating content. We had some very strong work out of Australia, for example. One of the issues is proof of the strength of delivery - a surprising amount of "the campaign exceeded expectations", as if that meant anything. But it was good to see that there is not much difference between the PR people at this level and the advertising people: a relief and a pleasant surprise.

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