A Mannes in Cannes: Shortlist Monday

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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.

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A Mannes in Cannes, just about.

Cannes

Words by Monsieur Chris Gotz

I am not yet A Mannes in Cannes. At the moment I am a man in an airplane somewhere over France. Until a few days ago the French Air traffic controllers were all stamping their feet and throwing stale baguettes about the place in a fit of pique over new EU regulations to reduce the amount of air traffic control hubs over Europe. This would significantly improve the efficiency and safety of air traffic over the continent, however it would also significantly reduce the amount of French air traffic controllers, hence the flinging of stale baguettes and a wildcat strike. My BA flight seems to be flying in a dead straight line towards Cannes, so clearly tempers have cooled for the moment.

There have been so many Cannes Predictions in the past week it was hard to keep it up. They were flying around like stale baguettes in a French air traffic controllers strike. Nevertheless, I do feel I should weigh in with some thoughts on what will win. That way, presuming my predictions are spot on, you can all save yourselves the trouble of actually following the Festival online.

Let’s juggle the narrative a bit and start at the end then. The week will end with a Grand Prix for Film going to the fabulous “Dumb ways to die” public safety film by McCann’s Sydney. By then everyone will be singing along with this catchy number and it will be lovely and remind everyone of the whistling along to Honda Grrrr all those years ago. The Film jury will feel awfully pleased with themselves because “Dumb ways to die” is more of a music video, “content” thingy than an actual commercial. This will give the jury and the jury chairperson, John Hegarty, the chance to use the word “content” frequently in their interviews, which, as everyone knows, is absolutely essential if you are going to have any credibility at all these days. I think by the end of the week “Dumb ways to die” will have won so many times it may cause jealous creatives to actually seek out a few dumb ways to die themselves. Expect a drunk Pole to march into the Med with a hair dryer – which wouldn’t actually kill him because it wouldn’t be plugged in, but he is, after all, a drunk Polish man.

Coming close to a Film Grand Prix, and my personal fave (not that my opinion matters anywhere beyond my cramped economy class seat ) will be the brilliant Southern Comfort film from Wieden’s – “Whatever’s Comfortable” – an exercise in strangeness and quirk that makes me happy every time I watch it.

I think Felix Baumgartner and Red Bull’s Space Jump thingy will win frequently this week. Apparently 8 million people watched it live online, which is slightly less than your average to good cat video can pick up in a few days. Admittedly cat videos are not live, but they could be, although to get the cats to cooperate would be difficult. I am not a big fan of the Red Bull thing. I watched it and I was utterly bored throughout. But, once again, it allows people to talk sagely about “content” and “branded entertainment” and for these reasons alone it will dominate the week. Grand Prix tomorrow or Tuesday for something I would guess.

Probably my favourite piece of work going into this week is Dove “Sketches”. It is an activation, a film, a direct marketing piece and probably also qualifies in a hundred other categories. It is a beautiful piece of truth, brilliantly executed and bang on strategy for Dove. It is also the most watched piece of commercial “content” in ad history online. I expect it to win big. It may just put Ogilvy Brazil in pole position for Agency of the Year. Hope it does.

In Outdoor I really love the IBM “Smarter city” work by Ogilvy Paris, it will feature prominently I think. Another piece of genius IBM work is the “World’s Smallest Film” by Ogilvy New York. Anyone who takes the trouble and time to isolate and animate single atoms, then magnify them a hundred million times and make a little film about a boy and his ball, well, I suspect even the French air traffic controllers would stop throwing stale baguettes and break into a smattering if applause.

On the other hand I may just be terribly wrong about all of this. In which case I will report faithfully all week about the real results and let you know what everyone thinks. I’ll also try and remember the good bits from the Seminars and give you the sparkly bits from those. Expect many mentions of the word “content” and “data” and “baguette”. Expect also a progressive and all encompassing gloom as our own work slips in and out of contention. Last year I was able to whoop and fist bump and feign modesty and then dance badly at the parties like a 40 year old nerdy white guys. This year, well, we shall have to see, but I’ll make sure I have a few stale baguettes to fling about should the likely eventuality of losing come to pass. It’s the hope, after all, that kills you.

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Chris Gotz Cannes 2013 Predictions

Chris Gotz

Originally posted at http://ididthatadpredictions.com/

The annual, traditional, tremendously accurate, never biased, ever-so-wise Cannes predictors have gathered again. They have selected the pieces of local work that might, just might, cause their creators to spend all their per diems in a single round of drinks at the Gutter Bar celebrating their Lions. Although chances are they won’t be at Cannes, so their ECD’s, who of course will be there, will buy the drinks and celebrate like they did the ad – after a quick, shouty, side-huggy telephone call on the steps of the Palais to tell the team how amazing they all are and just how generally awesome everything is, and how it would be so cool if they were able to be here too (if the ECD hadn’t flown Business Class and spent all the money). Apologies, that was a long sentence. Ad people don’t normally write like that. Generally they write like this. You know – lucid, short, intelligent, crisp sentences. Everyone tries to sound like David Abbott’s body copy for Sainsburys. And (ad people can start sentences with and – because we’re, like, f#ck grammar, we’re ad people) the point is (because there is a point, really, there is) that you will only win in Cannes if we don’t behave like ad people. We will win at Cannes by doing stuff no-one expects us to do.

These are the Cannes predictions, so there better be some soon. I also need to make up for my ludicrously tangential intro paragraph. So here are a few wild predictions:

1. Next monday morning, also known as Shortlist Monday, will probably be depressing for most of us. We will trawl the raft of Cannes shortlists looking for our work. While doing so we will come across amazingly well-crafted print ideas from China (hand drawn for months, possibly years, by carefully selected teams of juniors with small hands). There will also be incredible Brazilian activations using hand-reared Unicorns combined with large football crowds to promote gene therapy programmes for, say, a new children’s hospital. And, of course, there will be Swedish digital pieces (created by perfectly groomed men with beards and women who dress like a Vogue version of Pippie Langkous) using drones, sensors and polo bear migration habits to market a new 4×4. What we are not likely to find, unless we work for Wiedens, are vast amounts of our own work.

2. To compound the inadequacy of those of us who don’t have heaps of shortlists, there will be the air-punching few who do. The rest of us will say “wow, that’s awesome, good luck.” Although many of us (the mean –spirited ones) will secretly harbour hopes that the shortlisted work  will Stuka-dive spectacularly out of the show as the famous “Hispanic judging bloc” goes about their dastardly work.

3. There will be a shit Thai television execution featuring a life size locust and an insurance salesman. It will win something. There will be low tuneless whistling when it does.

4. Rob McLennan will lose his luggage, or be rerouted to Vladivostok, or both.

5. Marketing blogger Herman Manson will not be at Cannes, because (his words not mine) “Awards do not equal creativity and excellence.” Fortunately the CEO’s and CMO’s of some of the world’s largest corporations (who clearly disagree with Herman) will be there. In addition so will musician Jack Black, Formula 1 Driver Jenson Button, Conan O‘ Brien, Director Sir Alan Parker, Editor par excellence Tina Brown, Annie Leibowitz, Anderson Cooper of CNN and many more.

6. Japanese tourists will take photos of ad people on the red carpet outside the Palais des Festivales, thinking they might be minor celebrities. The ad people being photographed may also consider themselves minor celebrities. They will all be wrong.

7. People, perhaps people you know, will win. This will lead to much enthusiastic neck grabbing, fist bumping and feigned modesty. This will be followed by rounds of drinks more expensive than a small townhouse in Honeydew.

8. One of the Juries will pick a Grand Prix that makes a “statement”. This could be a film that’s not really a film (a really overhyped, boring activation with a guy jumping from deep space for instance). It may be a radio spot that’s actually a channel emitting a virtually inaudible throbbing hum in an attempt to talk to the aliens. There have been many of these over the years, all as awful as they are mystifying.

9. There will be incredible, gasp-inducing work, lots of it. It will inspire us and crack us up and makes us hate Swedish web people and anyone who works at Wiedens or BBH or Ogilvy Sao Paulo more than ever. Best of all, it will make us desperate to do work that is equally as good, equally as category breaking, equally as inspiring – which, if you think about it, is why Cannes and everything associated with it, is there in the first place.

Good luck everyone, if some of  the truly lovely work that’s been selected here is anything to go by, it’s going to be extremely tough to win this year.

SEE ALL THE SA CANNES PREDICTIONS ON IDIDTHATAD.COM

Audi R8: Gone in 5 seconds Case Study

Recently we created the above tactical YouTube pre-roll ad for the Audi R8, which can do 0 – 100km/h in 3.5seconds.
Most people only watch the mandatory 5 seconds of a YouTube ad before skipping it. So, we took the media space and used this 5 seconds time limit to demonstrate how fast the new Audi R8 Coupé can accelerate.

Agency: Ogilvy Cape Town
ECD: Chris Gotz
Creative Director: Jonathan Lang, Tommy Le Roux, Nicholas Wittenberg
Art Director: Benjamin de Villiers
Copywriter: Logan Broadley