Mannes in Cannes: Hope & The Electric Recorder

SAATCHI&SAATCHI seminar (10)

Words by Monsieur Chris Gotz

I am the Guinness Surfer. I am waiting. Tic toc. Although there are no white horses charging through the waves above me, and I am not a good looking salty blonde surfer dude, and I am staying in a hotel near the sea, not actually in the sea, but I am still waiting. The Film, Integrated and Branded Entertainment Shortlist comes out in an hour. In Cannes this is the last chance saloon, but it is also the big game, the show, the fat lady finally getting her aria.

Yesterday began with the Young Director’s Showcase, a selection of the world’s best young directors walking down the ramp and flashing a bit of side boob for the cameras (I am aware that’s a sexist analogy please feel free to substitute side boob for the male equivalent of side boob, although that’s probably plumber’s crack, so you can see why I went with side boob). It began with Richard Dawkins, the world’s most famous Godless man, reading a pompous tract about God knows what (although in this case God does not exist, of course) – apparently it was all about memes, who knew? Mr Dawkins was then replaced by a bit of 80’s and 90’s style geometric animation which looked like it had been borrowed from Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer video from 20 years ago. To this was added 3D mapping, the technology so loved by car launches and events companies desperate to hide their lack of an idea with spectacular lighting effects. SAATCHI&SAATCHI seminar Professor Dawkins(22)This ended with Richard Dawkins entering stage left and playing an electric recorder for a few minutes. It was over fairly quickly, thank God (or not in this case, depending on whether you believe in him).What followed was a lovely collection of incredible work from directors around the world. The selection is always a bit wtf and challenging to watch, but it was one of the highlights of Cannes this year.

The stand out piece for me was the Ben Liam Jones directed film for Childline, a masterpiece of gritty reality and sadness. Check out Gevorg Karensky’s live action version of Grand Theft Auto for go-pro gone bonkers. And Nabil’s new music video for Anthony and the Johnsons “Cut the world” is a masterpiece, although I wouldn’t show it to your wife if you’re going through a bad patch. Justin Anderson’s voyeuristic, slightly creepy but very sexy film for Agent Provocateur is also worth a look. There was the life story of a Leica camera, evoked with exquisite grace and power by Vellas. Comedy showed up strongly in Max Joseph’s great film for the Rainforest Alliance and also in Peter Atencio’s Tarentino homage “Pulled over”. You can see all the work on the New Director’s Showcase Youtube Channel.

David Karp, creator of Tumblr (although no longer owner of Tumblr having sold to Yahoo, who need all the help they can get from David Karp) was up on stage.Tumblr really does seem to represent an opportunity for brands to tell “native” stories in an authentic and free environment without restriction. David Karp mentioned the amazing opportunities brands have to work with tumblr a little too much, coming across a bit like an enthusiastic but very sincere encyclopaedia salesman.

lee clowThen on Friday morning we got to see the standout seminar of the whole week. Legendary ad heroes Lee Clow and George Lois chatting on stage for an hour. Their work speaks for itself, although they have no problem doing that either. It was flat out fascinating as they connected their work from the past 3 decades to what is going on in the industry now. Clow said sagely that he believed the industry was in a “great shaking out”, and no one really knows where it will end. He did say that until art directors and creative people have truly wrested partial curatorship of the web from the tech guys, and when they really start to collaborate their will be fireworks. George Lois said motherfu$&er a lot and told stories of courage and style and bloody minded stubbornness. He ended with the words, “Fight for your work. And if they don’t like it f$ck em.” Yes, quite. George once threatened to jump out of the window of Manhattan Skyscraper when a client refused to buy his layouts. Thankfully we were on the ground floor of the Palais.

The final Shortlists just hit the wires. Ogilvy Cape Town has 2, which gives us a final, slim chance at glory. South Africa has a smattering of TV Shortlists too. So, as we all descend into the Palais to watch the Film Shortlist, we carry with us, along with our free Cornettos and limited edition Cokes, a last smidgen of hope that somewhere a jury is sticking up their hands and handing us a Lion. Tic toc.

Sent from my iPad

Mannes in Cannes. Inspiration day.

Cannes

Words by Monsieur Chris Gotz

While eating duck breast with strawberries on a bed of bulgur wheat laced with raspberry jus I decided yesterday that Cannes is not kak. Yesterday was a particularly unkak day. Last night at the Outdoor, Mobile, Innovation and Media ceremony we won things, our country won things and, yes, Dumb Ways to Die won things, but you can’t have it all.

South Africa kicked some decent butt in Outdoor when a happy pride of Silver and Bronze Lions lolloped over the horizon ( it is debatable whether Lions lollop but I am going to go with it ). The totally lekker Doom “Wall of Shoes” by TBWA / Hunt / Lascaris Joburg grabbed a Silver, which is good, because a laak it. Also on the scoreboard was Ogilvy Cape Town with 2 Silvers for Volkswagen. One for the Volkswagen Genuine Parts “Puzzles” Campaign and another for the really smart (are you allowed to say that if it’s your own work?) “Don’t text and drive” work.

Also in the frame were Draft FCB Cape Town for their bleddy brilliant Engen “Fire blanket”.

Finally Y&R continue their happy week with some more metal for Landrover.

The Outdoor Grand Prix was one of my favourite pieces this year. The IBM “smart ideas for smarter cities” work by Ogilvy Paris is simple, smart and so beautifully on strat (yes, that is important to creative people) for IBM. I love the fact that it’s a fairly low-fi piece for a hi tech brand. I am also proud to say that the ECD of Ogilvy Paris is SA born Mr Christopher Garbutt.

Mobile is always interesting. South Africa should be winning in mobile. Our mobile growth and penetration is huge, it’s one of the best ways to reach people we probably couldn’t talk to any other way, and yet, nothing, fokol. Not a single South African mobile winner. Instead of being “traditionally strong” in radio, we should be traditionally strong in mobile. It is arrogant and ignorant in the extreme that our mobile creativity is non-existent, we aren’t even trying. Come on everyone, you love your bloody iPhones so much, let’s do some things ( I realize that is one of the most pathetic and nonsensical motivational speeches of all time, apologies).

Some of the best work of the Festival was on show in the mobile category last night. Ogilvy Paris had a corker where they gave away free WiFi in exchange for online Scrabble points. The Score Cleaner Notes app will write sheet music for you when you hum into your phone. And please, please have a look at the Reborn App piece by Antwerp based Duval Guillaume Modem for Organ Donation. Pure genius. The clear and growing intersection of dev, creativity and tech innovation in mobile work is becoming more and more pronounced. I am sad to say we are way, way behind in SA.

The best idea of the Festival so far was from DDB Dm9 for Smart Textbooks. They recycled old sim cards and downloaded school textbooks onto them (the textbooks were proving too expensive to print). The sim cards were then handed out at schools and kids popped them into their phones. Voila. That’s what I love so much about Cannes, the ideas that prove that our industry truly can make a huge difference if we do what we do well. Technology is magnifying the power of creative thinking more than ever before Viva la revolución.

The innovation Lions were interesting, lot’s of software and apps and deep tech ideas. There was talk that it felt like the industry was stepping outside of its territory, which I think is the point really isn’t it? The Grand Prix went to Cinder from The Barbarian Group, who created a software development platform for creative coding. Another winner was the GetIn bank credit card from MasterCard, which reveals the balance of your card as a digital readout on the card itself. Not sure if that would be good idea in South Africa.

My absolute favourite talk so far has been “How not to be a douchebag in advertising” by the perfectly wonderful people from Mother New York. I can think of a few people back home who could have done with this information. The talk was really all about finding your happy place in advertising. They proceeded to skewer the big network structures and condemn us all to advertising purgatory. They don’t have account management at Mother. Now, while it has been tempting to occasionally exterminate errant account management people, I have never thought of leaving them out of the structure altogether. What would we charge our clients for if we didn’t have a brigade of client service people on their fee ? How would we make money? We would be forced to rely solely on our creative product for our income. Gasp, horror.

Then Huffington Post power woman and ultimate leaner-inner Arianna Huffington took the stage to talk about how to stay healthy and wise in the digital age. It was fascinating and inspiring and just made supreme sense. She talked about the value of sleep, something that felt very relevant to me having been kept awake last night by an air con unit that sounded like it was powering the Death Star. She recommended nap rooms and meditation rooms in agencies (these are common now in the US, but not in agencies). And, aptly, she made the observation that creative people are at their best when they are allowed to rejuvenate regularly. This is not a startling observation, but she did point out that agencies somehow derive a weird sense of bravado about pushing mega hours. I tweeted about how impressed I was with her talk. She replied within minutes, thanking me. That is seriously impressive. I do realize that her twitter handle may very well be managed by a call centre in Bangladesh, but I am still impressed.

The opening Gala followed the ceremony last night. This is kind of like a United Nations of men with beards and spectacles and women in strappy dresses talking in 150 languages about how shit the decisions of the various juries have been throughout the week. I did hear some interesting stuff though. Client attendance is through the roof this year, 40% of Cannes delegates are marketers this year. That is astounding.

In other news Ogilvy seem to be hurtling towards network of the year. Over 80 Lions and counting now, more than in the entire week last year. Although I must say that all this ranking and tabulating and counting and comparing the various distances and velocities of our own urine might be a little (just a little) over the top. Just saying. We are here to see the work. We are here to find out how to push our industry forward. We are here to seek out new ways to sell our clients’ stuff and make money for their employees and shareholders. Most of all we are here to discover how to change and adapt to and cope with the single biggest advance in the human condition since the bloody industrial revolution. So reducing it all to a conversation about who has the biggest willy is a bit sad and, dare I say, a bit male. Perhaps Arianna Huffington was right – the first women’s revolution was asserting their right to vote. The second has been establishing their place at the top of the men’s world – in business, in politics, in the arts and communication. The third is still to come, in which women express their dissatisfaction with this world of men and change it completely to make it one of their own design.

If this is the case then my wonderful, lovely wife is way ahead, certainly in my house anyway.

Sent from my iPad

A Mannes in Cannes: Shortlist Monday

Cannes Lions Banner

As I write this the Dutch Young Creatives party is going full tilt across the road from our apartment. This is a bit like Armageddon at 160 beats per minute. The DJ has just played a set composed almost exclusively of themes from 80’s and 90’s video games. They are now thrashing around to Die Antwoord which, apart from inspiring a bout of masochistic patriotism, seems appropriate. Every now and then loud hill-billy like screams rise up out of the music, as if to suggest one of the Dutch Creatives has perhaps found the block of hash that went missing while flailing wildly to the tune of Pacman moments earlier.

Shortlist Monday began much earlier though, with Jack Black and Yahoo on stage for a seminar. I am not quite sure of Jack’s connection with Yahoo, neither was Jack for that matter ( it appears he may be making “content” with them) but let’s face it, Yahoo needs all the help it can get at this stage. Jack Black had the pleasant outlook of someone who went to bed drunk and woke up still feeling fairly tipsy. He was funny and said the word “internets” a lot, which I think was his way of trying to pay his dues. Also on stage was a fuzz-faced 17 year old in bright yellow trainers named Nick D’Aloisio. Nick was having a good day, in fact it is safe to say Nick is having a good life. At the age of 15 he raised enough venture capital to launch Summly, a news aggregation program which he recently sold to Yahoo for 15 million dollars. Nice one Nick. As I said, Yahoo needs all the help it can get, especially from brilliant 17 year olds in yellow trainers.

It was Shortlist Monday, so the Palais was filled with neurotic ECD’s charging up and down the display boards trying to find their work. The search was partially successful in South Africa’s case, with a fair smattering of Shortlists jumping Donkey Kong-like into view (the video game metaphor decision is one I am beginning to regret so I may not persist with it). I am backing the “Selfies” campaign for Cape Times to collect metal, perhaps Gold, in Press or Outdoor. South Africa was well represented in Outdoor, not so much in Promo and Direct and PR. That’s important to note, because the interesting, gamechangy work is happening in those categories, so we need to be stronger there.

One of the highlights of yesterday was an unscheduled meeting with Sir Donald Gunn, he of the fabled and crucial Gunn Report rankings. I call him Uncle Donald, because he is an old mate of my dad’s and also because it greatly elevates my self esteem by mentioning that. Besides offering a gratuitous name dropping opportunity, coffee with Uncle Donald was important for another reason, he is very plugged in, and we had a lovely chat about the potential Film Grand Prix. Of course the crowd favourite is already Dumb Ways to Die from McCann’s Melbourne (they were clapping and singing along with it at the ceremony last night already). However the Chairperson of the Film Jury is a certain Sir John Hegarty, a difficult and contrarian and brilliant adman, who is unlikely to let the jury default to populist choices. Uncle Donald seems to think it will be a straight fight between the wonderful “Susan Glenn” story for Axe and the DWTD (this abbreviation of Dumb Ways to Die now being necessary because of serial mentions that will greatly increase my word count, although this lengthy explanation of the abbreviation has kind of defeated the object a bit). Thing is, said Sir Donald, the Susan Glenn film is by Hegarty’s own agency BBH. So the plot is simmering into a nice thick fishy provencal broth on that one.

In the early evening we took our place in the queue behind the 2 thousand Japanese creatives (who had been waiting patiently for 5 hours in order to secure picture friendly seats) for last night’s ceremony. First up was PR. I must say PR is becoming increasingly crucial to what we do, and the work progressively more interesting. I suppose the rise of “native” advertising is driving that to some extent ( mentioning “native” advertising as often as possible seems to be very trendy at Cannes) I have yet to find out what it is but when I do all will be revealed. I loved the Google Plus work by Ogilvy Paris, “Same Sex Marriage”, proof that you can create a story around the story with masterful PR, or “newscrafting”.

Predictably the Dove “Sketches” work from Ogilvy Brasil won multiple Gold Lions, including a few for PR. It got a huge cheer. It is now one of the most watched pieces of content (lank points for mentioning “content” again) of all time, the cats will not be pleased. Biggest PR cheer of the night was for an idea we could do with in South Africa, from Voskhod Yekaterinburg in Russia for the ura.ru City website. Check it out, really smart and funny. The Grand Prix in PR went to DWTD by McCann’s Melbourne, I suspect the first of a few Grand Prix for them this week. Warning : if you watch the case study the tune will lodge in your head for days, which is probably better than carrying around the theme from Donkey Kong that currently haunts me.

Next up was Promo and Activation. I loved, and always have loved, the work for the London Borough of Greenwich by OgilvyOne London Group. It is important if only for the fact that it uses a behavioural economics insight, something which will come to define our industry over the next few years, I suspect. The Grand Prix went to a fabulous idea from Ogilvy Brazil for Sport Club Recife FC. It has everything, drama, huge emotional appeal, a public service spin and to top it all a simply brilliant idea. Advertising that saves lives will always transfix a jury. Ogilvy Brasil went on to win 8 Gold and a Grand Prix last night, they are now the Usain Bolts of the ad world, making all the rest of us feel inadequate and weedy.

I was a bit disappointed with the Direct Lions. There has always been a preponderance of Charity and PSA work at Cannes, the obvious emotional appeal of causes and appeals makes it an easy target for awards hungry agencies. But as a jury, and especially as a Chairperson, you need to accept and try and mentally account for that. Not the Direct Jury. Oh no, they were flinging Gold Lions at charity work like French Air Traffic Controllers chucking stale baguettes at a wildcat strike. Mark Tutssel, the Chairperson of the Direct Jury, should stand on a street corner and self-flagellate, possibly with a stale baguette. If I was a client watching that lot I’d be pissed off. Then the Direct panel topped it off with the monumental howler of the week so far and gave the Grand Prix to a film, DWTD. Yes, there’s was a reachy attempt by the agency to make it a “direct” idea, but come on Direct Jury, get a freaking grip people.

Last up was the first Effectiveness Lions. A nice sprinkling of work with once again some decisions more questionable than a Bafana Bafana defensive performance. They gave an effectiveness award to John Lewis for, er, being brave enough to run some lovely commercials. Brilliant. They redeemed themselves somewhat by giving a Lion to American Express for Small Business Saturday, but they will have to do better next year.

Well done to the lads and lasses at Y&R SA who picked up 2 Silvers last night for their “Hope Soap” idea. Apart from that the SA pickings were lean. Tuesday sees the Cyber Shortlist, so we’ll find out if Graham Warsop’s case of Champagne will be liberated this year or not. I must say I do fancy striding into his office and lifting it off the Chesterfield. If we don’t Shortlist then, well, there will be much flailing of arms and moaning and drowning of sorrows in bottles of Rose served by diffident and unsympathetic waiters. We live and hope though.

Sent from my iPad

Mannes in Cannes // Part 6 // I know what you did last night.

Brand content EntertainmentPR GoldPress GoldRadio Gold

Well, this is my final Mannes in Cannes. Reason being, I am not even in Cannes anymore. So this is more “Man in Dubai International Airport on Dodgy Wifi Eating BLT” which has a lovely ring to it you must admit.

To be honest the last few days have been of a mind copulation. Beginning with a lovely, air-conditioned viewing of the outstanding TV Shortlist on Friday. And what a great Shortlist it was, viewed with the bare minimum of low whistles (the Cannes version of the boo, don’t ask me why). This was accompanied by the news that Ogilvy Cape Town had one last Shortlist, in Branded Content and Entertainment, for our Carling Black Label “Be the coach” work. So we were to be in the game for the final ceremony at Cannes, the grand finale of the week.

Also on Friday was the long awaited on-stage chit-chat between Dan Wieden and John Hegarty. Together, as founders of fiercely independent agencies Wieden and Kennedy and BBH, they have given the world some of the most recognizable and best loved work of the past 2 decades, for brands such as Levi’s, Nike, Honda and, more recently, The Guardian. This was barbed, slick, funny and wise banter the likes of which you don’t see often. It was easy to see why these guys have set the pace for advertising excellence for a while now.

Friday night was South African party night. Very cool to see the flag flying over the Croisette. The general feeling was that we had done jolly well ( at that stage 25 Lions for the week) but our paltry 4 film Shortlists was like totally not cool hey bru, we need to make like Avis and try harder. It was good to get together with some local seuntjies after a hectic week of talking in broken English to full bearded Swedish web designers and trying to evade aggressive New York production people.

Saturday, for me, began on the beach, with a vroeg in die more swim in the Med.

As I towelled myself off, my phone buzzed excitedly next to me. It was 10.35. As a shortlisted agency at Cannes you generally spend the day of the ceremony in a state of angsty anticipation in case you get “the call” from the festival organizers, who will tell you that you have won gold. Generally this does not happen and the prickly anticipation fades rapidly after 10.30, to be replaced by a bleak disappointment, which is in turn replaced later in the day by a fresh, although slightly muted, optimism that you may have won silver or bronze.

The message, from my wonderful and tremendously on the ball awards manager back home in SA, said simply “We got gold””.

Anyone who was on the Ville de Cannes beach that day would have observed a man in black swimming trunks get up off his lounger and air punch repeatedly. This was directly followed by a curious hopping dance on the water’s edge. The rest of the day was spent in a trance-like state of serendipity, punctuated by vigorous bromantic hugging of fellow Ogilvy SA people.

Tommy Le RouxSo for the very first time I did not have to queue with thousands of sweaty delegates in the sun for 2 hours before the Film ceremony. Tommy Le Roux and I were shown to our seats at the front of the auditorium. Directly in front of us was Ted Royer, Chief Creative Officer of Droga 5, who was receiving txts throughout the ceremony from the man himself, Dave Droga. We know this because we read them over his shoulder. Towards the end of the evening our big moment arrived and we shuffled happily across the stage to collect our Gold Lion from the Jury Chair. It all happened very fast, a bit like a car accident, only a good one, if that makes any sense.

Gold OgilvyCTFilm Grand Prix went to goody-goody fast food outlet Chipotle “Back to the start”, which I liked a lot. That piece also got the Branded content and entertainment Grand Prix for the work done around it in the Cultivate program. The Gold’s were all good on the night. There are too many to list, and this blog post is very late, mostly due to the aliens’ interfering with our server capacity (at least that’s what the IT guy says). But please have a look at them (Click here), they are a huge part of what was, for me anyway, the best work I have seen at Cannes for years. It’s been lovely jabbering away like this all week. It would be great to do it again this year. It would be even better to do it while my agency clocks up another 7 Lions, although that would be overly optimistic.

chris gotzI will see you all back in SA after my 26 hour flight odyssey. I dearly hope I do not have to sit next to a full-bearded Swedish web designer or a hustling New York animatic production agent.

I have had enough of that for one year. And I really don’t want to have to share my Xtra large bag of duty free Maltesers with anyone.

Sent from my iPad

Mannes in Cannes // Part 5 // Another one

 

SEMINAR Ogilvy and Mather (5)SEMINAR Ogilvy and Mather Alain de Botton (13)SEMINAR Bill Clinton GROUPO ABC  (11)146627281FD002_Cannes_Lions

It is Friday morning in Cannes and the sun is shining. This would normally be great if I weren’t so bleary eyed from yet another late night. I am too tired even to make that same Malteser joke I have been making in this blog throughout the week. Last night was party night at Cannes. The Ogilvy party, the Shots party, the Velocity party. It was a heaving, thumping mess of groaning plates of canapés, women in strappy heals and hipster Swedes in full beards with slick side partings. If you were wondering where all the mirror balls went, well I can tell you most of them ended up in Cannes. Remember strobe lights, those grim reminders of 80’s matric dances? Well, they’re all here too. Last night was not a good night to be an epileptic in Cannes. I spoke to a lot of interesting people at these parties, intermittently running into unpleasant fast-talking production people from New York trying to tell you why you really should be producing your animatics with them. I can’t think of many more bizarre scenarios than discussing the intricacies of big budget animatic production with feisty, pushy New York production people to the sound of ghastly eurobeat, while strobe lights beat up on your eyes. So I left.

This morning is different. There is a new cruise ship in the harbour. Little boats shuttle back and forth ferrying the passengers and their credit cards to the nearest branch of Dolce and Gabbana so they can spend 100 000 bucks on another white linen jacket. These people are all deeply tanned, as wealthy people normally are. This is because really rich people generally choose not to experience winter. Instead they inhabit summer, wherever it may be, striding around in their green leather deck shoes and Hermes kaftans like they own the place, which they normally do. Today’s cruise ship is white, of course, and is called “The Epic”, which seems a pretty unimaginative name, even for a cruise ship.

Yesterday was Bill Clinton day at Cannes. I was going to make a few cigar jokes but after seeing him speak I was left too admiring to do that. He spoke for an hour or so about the state of the world and what we need to do to fix it. He has to be one of the most brilliant and inspiring people I have ever had the privilege of hearing. One particularly cool thing he said – we are all 99,9 percent the same, yet the world seems to spend all of its time concentrating its energy on the 0,1 percent that makes us different to each other. Now that may sound trite but he backed it up with some facts about mutual cooperation that really made sense. He left me feeling optimistic and inspired, which was really the point.Smokey Robinson (4)

Smoky Robinson also talked yesterday, about social media. Now, I never really thought Smoky Robinson and social media belonged in the same sentence, but he made a good fist of it. He didn’t sing, which I was relieved about, not being a huge Smoky Robinson fan. Turns out he has been working with Crispin Porter and Bogusky (yes, I know, that is weird) on a causal marketing social media movement thingy they are going to call Smoke Alarm ( get it?). Good luck to them.

Today we see the film Shortlist. It is my favourite day at Cannes. Holed up in a dark air-conditioned room, I will watch the 500 or so best commercials and films of the year, as decided by the film jury. Also out today is the Branded content and Entertainment Shortlist, Carling Black Label’s last chance at some extra glory. I will keep you all posted. (Editors note, Carling got the shortlist, so are in for a shot for 1 more Lion).

chris gotzFrom my balcony I can see a flag fluttering in the breeze with a Google logo on it. This is the Google HQ, a lovely section of beach where ad people can go to drink free smoothies and ride on various strange watercraft and also hear about how Google will shortly be taking over the world in a kind of benevolent autocracy that will include free smoothies and free wifi everywhere where we will all be governed by Swedish web designers with full beards and slick side partings. Jokes aside, I wonder if that Google flag fluttering over us is not a sign of things as they really might be one day. Could be worse, it already is.

Sent from my iPad