Words by Monsieur Chris Gotz
Occasionally the week in Cannes offers up little unexpected moments of pleasure. A spin in a pistachio Lamborghini, a drink at the Martinez with Roger Moore, sunbathing on the deck of Paul Allen’s yacht or dinner with Brad and Angelina at Tétou, a restaurant in Antibes, where the lobster will set you back 200 Euros. None of these things happened to me, not even close. However I did go to the famous Colombe d’ Or, in the small hilltop town of Saint-Paul de Vence. The restaurant is famous not for its food, but its art collection. The walls are adorned with Miró, Picassos, a Matisse or 2 and many more. A beautiful Calder sculpture looms over the pool. It’s a bit like eating a rack of lamb in one of the courtyards of the Louvre, just without the Japanese tourists and large groups of pensioners from Wisconsin hanging around.
In the taxi on the way home one of my colleagues received a text on his phone. Someone, somewhere had heard someone else say that, possibly, they had heard a mention that one of the judges in Branded Content and Entertainment had told someone, who had told somebody else, that we might get a Lion. This was possibly, maybe, perhaps good news. Cannes is fuelled by Rosé and rumours. Many hopes have foundered on the faint fumes of hope wafting up from the judging rooms in the basement of the Palais. And so began the most anxious 15 hours of the Festival.
My colleague Nicholas Wittenberg wore a yarmulke for much of the following morning. He is not a devout man, but, like Yahoo, we needed all the help we could get. I just watched my phone, which remained as silent and insolent as a French waiter. Finally the call came, and the news that our last chance saloon finalists had both won Lions, and one of them was Gold. Cue Tiger Woods fist pumps and neck hugs and shouty calls to the people who actually did the work in Cape Town. The rest of the day passed in a blissful fug of tense elation.
The best thing about winning Gold on the last night is that you don’t have to queue to get in. You just waltz in through a side entrance like Patricia de Lille at the Baxter Theatre.The last night at Cannes is the Film, Film Craft, Branded Content and Entertainment and Integrated ceremony.
First up was Film Craft. If you watch anything from the Festival this year, watch the Craft Grand Prix – the “Superhumans” spot for the Paralympics by Channel 4, for Channel 4. It is nothing short of a masterpiece. For the first time in my 6 years of going to Cannes there was a standing ovation for a piece of work, and the film truly deserved it.
The Film Lions were up next. Lots of expected contenders in the mix there. The brilliant Southern Comfort ad “Whatever’s Comfortable” out of Wieden and Kennedy got big cheers. If you want to watch a brilliant insight based idea then look at the “Camera Shy” Dove film from Ogilvy London that won Gold. The Grand Prix went to 2 films, Sir John Hegarty making the point that the film Jury felt the need to reward both long and short form films.
Dumb Ways to Die picked up an unprecedented 4th Grand Prix, this time for Film, probably well deserved for a commercial that has been seen by 500 million online, made the charts in 10 countries and got played for free by most commercial broadcasters. It is probably the “stickiest” advertising work for many a year. Pereira & O ‘Dell San Francisco won a Grand Prix (a second one this week) for the totally brilliant film “The beauty inside” which featured Hollywood semi-star Topher Grace (who was there to pick up the award with the agency).Take a look at it, it involves the audience in a way no other content piece has ever done before.
It will be one of the great Film reels this year, so I would look at as much of the work online as I could if I were you. They’ll take it all down in a month or so.
In Branded Content and Entertainment the wonderful IBM “World’s Smallest Film” from Ogilvy New York finally picked up Gold after flirting with Silver and Bronze all week. Well deserved, considering they moved atoms around and magnified them 100 million times just so we could see the piece. Check out the “Deforested field” from Grey 141 in Sao Paulo for the WWF for a smart live programming intervention. The Grand Prix went, once again to “The beauty inside” for Intel. Somewhere amongst all of those we skipped onto stage to collect our Gold Lion. It was kind of cool to remind ourselves later that we had the rare privilege of winning a Gold Lion with Dan Wieden, Sir John Hegarty, George Lois, Lee Clow and David Droga in the audience. Hope they liked the work.
Integrated and Titanium Jury President Dan Wieden handed out the Lions in this category. He must be one of the wisest, most lovely men in all of advertising and his stories have beguiled us for decades. The Samsung “Bridge of Life” by Cheil Worldwide was the pick of the bunch. The Grand Prix for Integrated went, predictably and well deservedly, to Dumb Ways to Die, which, thumbing its nose at the notion of a history making 4th Grand Prix, went on and claimed a 5th just for good measure. I would love to be a fly on the wall in that office on Tuesday when they all get back to work. What now guys? Perhaps just do some strip ads for a boring investment services client just to get your feet back on the ground.
The Titanium Grand Prix is the Grand Finale of Cannes, and it went to, for me, the standout piece of work at the festival. No, not Dumb Ways to Die, rather the Dove “Real Beauty Sketches” from Ogilvy Brazil. In a wonderful touch, the women who were sketched in the piece were flown over to collect the Grand Prix. It brought the house down, and there was an unprecedented second standing ovation of the night. All that was left after that was for Ogilvy Brazil to collect the overall agency of the Year, probably by a country mile after winning 35 Lions.
Now, finally, on to Nice airport, a Gold Lion heavier than when we arrived, which is a most pleasing way to leave the South of France in June. It’s been a good year for “the work” I think.
You could certainly feel the velocity of the changes hitting the industry very strongly in Cannes this year. They are changes that will not be solved by the repeated use of the word” content” and “platform”, nor will they be met with the overblown promises of “big data” or the platoons of people who now call themselves “social media strategists”. We may live in the golden age of bullshit, but we also live in the golden age of opportunity. The challenges and great changes that face our industry will be overcome by the same thing that always saves our bacon : brilliant creative work.
As George Lois said, “We aren’t in the technology business we are in the fu*king creativity business”.
Well said George.
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