Here is a new strange and wondrous ad we just put together for Stimorol’s new Sensations Chewing Gum. Synchronised swimmers, a fruit waterfall, and lots of indulgent candy gel was involved in the shoot, needless to say it was a fun to make (See the behind the scenes below). We hope you enjoy it.
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.
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”.
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. 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.
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.
Then 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.
It has not been a good week on earth for South Africa. Our cricketers played with all the resolve of wet biltong. Our Baby Boks, despite having a fullback who rivals the roadrunner for energy and pace, crashed out of the World Cup. Our football team, well they just played like our football team. Thanks heavens for our Ad people, who last night redeemed a miserable week for South Africa on the global stage by winning 19 Lions in Press, Design and Radio. The irrepressible Net#work BBDO traced a now familiar path onto stage to collect yet another 2 Gold’s for Mercedes Benz. And then Silvers and Bronzes, lots and lots of them. The downside was yet another loud starter pistol blank in Cyber, which had me sliding forlornly down my seat and left me feeling like Wayne Ferreira at Wimbledon. Or South Africa at a One Day cricket tournament. Or Bafana Bafana at … you get my drift.
I was lucky enough to see John Maeda speak on Creative Leadership yesterday. John is one of those irritating and brilliant polymaths who excel at just about everything. He was recently voted one of the 75 most Influential people of the 21st Century. Creative Leadership, meaning both how to lead creatively and how creative people should lead, is one of the big issues in our industry. More often than not our creative people are appointed on the basis of work they have done, the Lions they have racked up, the Loeries in their cupboard, not leadership ability. Hence the “Mussolini meets Courtney Love they sleep together and have children” style of creative leaders some of us become. He gave me my favourite quote of the festival so far “The grass is always greener on the other side because from far away you can’t see the weeds.” I strongly recommend you get hold of his book “Redesigning leadership“. I found it incredible that a man who is at heart a graphic designer can have the most profound thoughts about redefining leadership. Respect, as they say on the twitter.
I spent much if yesterday afternoon looking at work. The basement hall of the Palais is filled with thousands of pieces of work on display boards, all the shortlisted work in every category. What astonished me was a lot of the work that didn’t win. This was partly because I have residual feelings about the quality of my own work that didn’t win. Nevertheless inspiration, and not winning, remains the true purpose and meaning of Cannes now. Although the organizers will have you think differently.
Last night’s ceremony was a mix of the sublime and the utterly ridiculous.
First up were the endlessly sublime Design Lions. Design is varied and pure and wonderful and just so bloody easy to love. The “Tree Concert” from BBDO Germany for Friends of the Earth will make you happy. The Nike “House of Innovation” window display at Selfridges from Staat Creative in the Netherlands is a beautiful example of what well-crafted digital display can do for retail. The design Lions had integrity and beauty and wonderfully pure craft simply oozing out of every fold and fissure.
The work for 9 Suns Winery made me say the F-bomb to myself slowly.the Grand Prix was an annual report “Self Scan Report” from the wonderful people at ServicePlan Munich. Who would have thought an annual report for a large supermarket chain could win a Grand Prix at Cannes. Not me, I’d try and chuck that brief at some low level junior design minion every time. Yet the Self Scan report is quite brilliant and hugely simple.
Then came the Press Lions. Sandwiched between Cyber and Design, Print is always on a hiding to nothing. Print is fighting for relevance. Print is fighting for its life to be honest. Print is the dinosaur that doesn’t know the goddamn asteroid is about to hit the earth and block out the sun. It seems like the Press Jury may have just decided to speed up the demise of the medium. They followed in a long tradition of utterly crap Grand Prix decisions with their choice of the iPad mini ad for Apple. The Chairman of the Press Jury Marcello Serpa said that the ad was “deceptively simple”. No, Mr Serpa, it was just deceptively shit. Good God. Amongst the Golds were some ads for The Times of India with a pun that wouldn’t get past my junior account man. There was some really great work too, work that was much more deserving of the Grand Prix. The Bayer campaign from AlmapBBDO was lovely and funny and deserved Gold. The campaign for Beijing Sport Radio was cool too. It’s worth looking at the work that that they skipped over in the Silvers and Bronzes (a lot if it admittedly South African), lots of potential Golds there too, perhaps even a likely Grand Prix, but what the heck do I know.
Radio was next. We are “traditionally strong” in radio. It is our security blanket. It disguises our inadequacies in digital and mobile and direct and promo and integrated and cyber. And yes, thankfully, we won Lions in radio. Some superb stuff once again for Mercedes by Net#work BBDO had SA picking up a couple ofGolds, the only ones so far for South Africa. There were a few other Golds really worth listening to. First up the AutoTune spot for Dove out of Ogilvy London, the Press Jury should listen to that if they are interested in what deceptively simple really means. The New Zealanders from Draft FCB in Auckland pulled a genius fast one on a local radio station for Prime Television in a radio stunt called Call Girl. And, cue drum roll, brass section, high stepping can can girls, the Radio Grand Prix went to … Dumb Ways to Die. That’s 3 Grand Prix lions and counting for McCann Melbourne, I wouldn’t like to be the finance person that tries to go through their per diems.
Cyber was the last category if the evening. Gone were the websites and games and screen based tricks of the past. Cyber now is all about beautiful crafted and layered film experiences, massively immersive, hugely interactive, multi platformed, add appropriate buzzword here. We need to start looking at digital the same way we see TV : big budget productions with long timelines and massive amounts of effort and craft. If we don’t then Mr Warsop’s Champagne will sit on that creaky leather for a very long time. I felt a bit like the frisky guy in the 10 000 Meters at the Olympics who thinks he really has a good chance and then gets lapped by 12 Kenyans early on in the race. Amphibiox for Geox Shoes from SMFB Oslo was a great example of big budget film values being applied to digital. The Martin Agency produced Clouds over Cuba and showed everyone the future of the documentary – take a good look at this piece, it is truly remarkable and had us chatting about it for ages. For truly extraordinary visual acrobatics look at Golden Chains for ALB from CLM BBDO Boulogne-Billancourt.
A bit of a lull now until the film Shortlist comes out on Friday. It’s always my favourite day at Cannes, hiding away deep in the screening rooms of the Palais devouring the entire reel of film contenders. Rumours are already flying that “DWTD” has to get it. I would rather see Southern Comfort “Whatever’s Comfortable.” win it. So my money is on the big fat guy in a speedo walking down the beach in leather ankle boots. The team that got a client to buy that spot deserve all the Grand Prix that Cannes can possibly throw at them.
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.
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.