Life sometimes pivots dramatically on a single phone call. Sometimes it’s bad news, and it changes everything. And sometimes, perhaps less frequently, it’s something so lovely and amazing you’ll never forget it.
Yesterday morning I was watching an early seminar in the Wunderman Beach Cabana. For those who don’t know, Wunderman is Y&R’s Direct company. The Wunderman Cabana a marvelous place where people who are too lazy too queue for ages to see Jared Leto speaking at the festival in real life, can relax on fake white leather couches and watch him on a large screen. They do this while drinking free Wunderman coffee, eating Wunderman almond croissants and drinking Wunderman San Pellegrino. When you leave you can take as many free Wunderman t-shirts as you like (which is awesome because they don’t have “Wunderman” blazed across the front, just cool designs).
So there I was watching Jared Leto, who was bloody magnificent. Of course he has won an Oscar, plays in a really successful rock band and has started up a few very successful digital businesses, so he’s basically the ultimate polymath. He could get together with Stephen Fry and rule the earth. He told us to “make my life interesting, tell me the truth or fucking leave me alone.” Exactly.
Jared Leto was busy asking some young ladies up on stage for a starstruck selfie when my phone rang. It was my marginally overweight friend Damon Stapleton (The Zimbabwean guy). “Congrats buddy, Lucozade won the Grand Prix for radio.”
And so the day changed.
We had, of course, opened our account the evening before at the Outdoor Lions Ceremony.
Two Lions are coming home with us for our Volkswagen work.
There was some remarkable stuff on show.
Check out the Adidas D-Rose Jump Store from TBWA London for D-Rose shoes. Probably the best pop up store anyone will ever do, ever, ever. Astonishing.
The Dallas “Gas Station” for entertainment channel TNT was about as good an activation as you will ever see.
Grand Prix went to GAYTM out of TBWA Melbourne. If you want to see how to win a Cannes Grand Prix for a bank on a tiny budget, then check it out.
Mobile was on the same night. If there is one message being hammered home by all and sundry (apart from all the idiot-philosophy about “stories”) it’s that mobile is soon going to be the only game in town.
There was some really great work. “Pay per laugh” for Teatre Neu from McCann Barcelona was a brilliant use of smile recognition technology. “One minute of silence” for Anzac Appeal by DDB Melbourne brought the house down. The Mobile Grand Prix went to the Nivea’s phemomenal wrist band for Nivea Kids from FCB Sao Paulo.
The Media Lions gave us the world’s first all Lego ad break from PHD London for the Lego movie, one of my favourite pieces of the festival, being a father of 2 Lego obsessed little boys. Grand Prix went to a lovely little idea for Coke called Happy ID.
All of which takes us back to the Wunderman beach cabana and that phone call. The first thing to do was call the lovely Mariana O’Kelly, my colleague who, along with Neo Mashigo, has put her heart and soul into the creative rejuvenation of Ogilvy Johannesburg for the past year.
Leaving Mariana in a sobbing, happy heap on her hotel room floor, I grabbed a few free Wunderman t-shirts and headed out into the Cannes sun, which for all the world looked like it was shining happily out of my bottom.
Several blurry expeditions to buy t-shirts (Paul Smith ) and dresses (not for me for Mariana) later we found ourselves seated in the winners section for the evening’s award’s show.
Mariana had brought her 6 year old twins along, and her long-suffering advertising husband. She figured that if they had to endure a year of days and nights with their mama at the office making nice ads, they can be on the glory side of the experience too. It was a magnificent idea, although the presence of small children in the Palais was bewildering for some to say the least.
First up was Design, which for some reason always serves up a stunning display of pure and unadulterated beauty. The Japanese own Design like they own waving gold cats. The flat out fabulous sticky outy piece of the night was “Mother Book” for the Kishokai Medical Corporation from Dentsu. For something that you’ll wish South Africa had done first have a look at the “Paper Prison” for the Mandela Poster Project from Interbrand New York.
The Grand Prix for Press went to the wonderful “I spent it on myself” work for Harvey Nichols. It’s not often that work that’s part of a bigger (and really great) integrated campaign gets the big Lion. So, hats off to the Press Jury for being brave and pushing it through. Another standout Press Gold was the work for Rothammer Beer from Prolam Y&R Santiago, incredible photography, great idea, unique execution. Wish I’d done it (See images below just click to zoom).
Cyber was up next. There are more Grand Prix in Cyber than any other category, mainly because of the diversity of work you’ll find there. This year there were 3.
First went to the “24 Hours of happy” for Pharrel Williams from Iconoclast Paris. Number 2 went to “The Scarecrow” for Chipotle – another genius use of animation coupled with a great interactive experience. This is next level stuff folks, watch and learn.
Volvo Trucks “Live Test Series” was the last digital Grand Prix. Enya boomed out across the Palais as the audience roared, Van Damme was in the house again, if only on the screen. Watch all of them. Be jealous.
And finally on to radio, by which time we were squirming in our seats enduring a delicate cocktail of anxiety and excitement.
There was loads to cheer about for South Africa, as we made up for our verlep performance earlier in the week.
The Bronzes, Silvers and the Golds all featured SA work.
There is always a fear, when you’re about to get up onstage at Cannes, that the reaction to the work from the hyper picky ad crowd is going to be tepid – that your big moment will be flattened out by a collective meh.
They played the work. We shifted our bottom to the edge of our red velvet seats.
I was sitting next to Ted Royer, ECD of Droga NYC. Ted roared with laughter. The audience erupted, they loved the spots and we walked up onto stage amidst whooping and cheers.
Mariana’s twins toddled up the stairs accepted the Grand Prix (and refused to let it go for some hours afterwards) and that pretty much brought the house down.
It was a big moment. It was the moment one of South Africa’s greatest agencies climbed up off the canvass and put on the big gold championship belt again.
Those 2 little boys holding up that Radio Grand Prix will be one of the great moments of this year’s festival, but very few people here know just how important it was to 500 or so people slogging away in Joburg.