Canada has a one-in-23 shot at Titanium (and/or) Integrated Lions

The shortlist was released this morning in Cannes for the Titanium & Integrated category, and Canada has a spot on the very short list.

When Unilever made a global commitment to up its media creativity and overall messaging innovation a while back, I doubt they envisioned that it would lead to a Unilever Canada-commissioned play competing against the US presidential election campaign. And yet, when the Titanium & Integrated shortlist was announced this morning in Cannes, Dove’s play supporting its Pro-Age brand is up against Obama, The King, and ‘The Best Job in the World.’

Body and Soul, out of Ogilvy Toronto, is one of only 23 finalists for the big Cannes finale. Spearheaded by Unilever’s Sharon MacLeod, brand building director, Dove & skin care, and Ogilvy’s CCOs Nancy Vonk and Janet Kestin, the groundbreaking play was written by famous Canadian playwright Judith Thompson and starred real women (non-actors), sharing stories of their lives that illustrated inner strength and beauty. The play debuted last spring to standing ovations, and was brought back for another run this year. It was also just announced as part of the Vancouver 2010 Olympiad lineup. It was also the subject of a nationally-aired documentary by Veronica Tennant.

Body and Soul

With eight Lions in the bag thus far, Canada is already on par with last year’s total medal tally, and with 18 shortlisted for Film and an excellent shot in T&I, hopefully Canada’s industry can surpass that, rewarding the perseverance and focus on excelling through what’s been a tough year.

The Cannes adfest’s most prized Lions have traditionally been the original category – Film – but ever since the advent of the Titanium Lion in 2003, the crown has been usurped by the T&I category, which identifies ‘groundbreaking and innovative concepts in the world of advertising and marketing.’ Essentially, the ideas that provide a glimpse at the future of advertising, such as last year’s Titanium Grand Prix-winning Uniqlock widget from Japanese fashion retailer Uniqlo.

Nash Peter

This year, there were 403 entries from 45 countries, with Canada supplying 21 of those contenders, the fourth largest country tally, following the US (98 entries and 14 finalists), UK (38 entries and 1 finalist) and Japan (25 entries and no finalist). This year also marks the first time Canada has had a Titanium judge, Taxi CCO Steve Mykolyn.

On the US front there are some strong competitors in the field, such as ‘The Great Schlep’ out of Droga5. Goodby Silverstein and Partners has five entries, including the ‘There Can Only Be One’ push for the NBA 2008 playoffs, while Euro RSCG New York has two, as does Crispin Porter + Bogusky, including ‘Whopper Sacrifice.’ From farther afield, Australia and South Africa respectively, campaigns that have been getting jury love across the board are also in the running here: ‘Best Job in the World,’ for Tourism Queensland out of Cumminsnitro, Brisbane; and the ‘Trillion Dollar Campaign’ for the Zimbabwean. In addition to the popular Sarah Silverman-starring ‘Schlep,’ Obama-related finalists include the Obama/Biden presidential campaign from Obama for America, and the ‘Yes We Can’ song by Will.I.Am.

Whopper Sacrifice

Last year only three Titanium Lions were deemed worthy, and three Integrated Lions, which is on par with the category’s short history. At inception, the four jury presidents chose the winners, but in 2005 a jury was added to the mix, as it was relaunched as an Integrated Campaign category in its own right. In 2006, it changed again, losing the Integrated moniker, to get back to its unique idea roots, with no media boundaries. In 2007, it morphed into its current category form, which is for both integrated campaigns and breakthrough ideas, with one jury and one undifferentiated entry field to sort and divvy up both Integrated and Titanium Lions as they see fit. Canada has never been on that podium. Yet.