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 Germanyfor 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 forThe 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 of Golds, 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 BBDOBoulogne-Billancourt.
The Cyber Grand Prix went to 2 pieces. The Oreo Daily Twist by Draftfcb New Yorkshowed us that the true home of tactical advertising is no longer newspapers but the web. The other Grand Prix went to The Beauty Inside from Pereira & O’Dell, San Francisco, for Intel and Toshiba.
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.