MiC Picks: Fred Forster

Following the Globe's 'Cannes Reel Screenings' presentation last night, the president of PHD Canada reflects on his experience as a media judge at Cannes this spring.

To identify the work Canada’s media gurus think best exemplifies smart new media thinking, MiC regularly invites guest curators to share their thoughts on the Really Important Things That Are Happening in the mediaverse. Today, Fred Forster, president and CEO of strategy‘s MAOY winner PHD Canada, reflects on his experience – and the best entries – from the 2010 Cannes Festival of Advertising.

The 2010 competition for Media Gold at Cannes was fierce to say the least, with more than 2,162 entries, which represented an 18% increase over 2009. It is, quite frankly, an arduous task to sift through all of the submissions through five long days of judging to find those jewels among them that should justly be recognized.

That said, it is amazing to see the best work filter to the top and achieve a high degree of consensus among 25 jurors from around the globe. The work was graded on three separate criteria – ‘insight,’ ‘innovation’ and ‘results’. Any winning submission had to have scored high in each of the three areas in order to make it to the podium.

Apparently we were a stingy bunch, with the Media Jury handing out the fewest Gold (just eight) of any of the jury competitions held at Cannes in 2010. This was not to say there wasn’t plenty of great work. But as a jury we wanted to ensure that truly great media thinking was rewarded, and we worked hard to filter out campaigns that were more about a great creative idea than the actual media insight and execution.

Here are three of my favorites from among the campaigns that won Cannes Gold this year. Each exemplifies how great media insight and innovative execution can combine to solicit a powerful emotive experience for the consumer.

Pedigree Adoption Drive

This clever execution from Starcom Australia not only won Gold at Cannes but was a Grand Prix winner at the 2009 Internationalist Awards, the MFAs in Australia and at The Spikes in Singapore. Pedigree wanted to draw attention to the fact that thousands of shelter dogs were being euthanized because homes could not be found for them. A negative stigma associated with shelter dogs made it difficult to adopt them out. Starcom’s solution was to personalize each dog’s story on life-sized orange cut-outs that were then placed throughout Melbourne. The sudden appearance of hundreds of orange dog cut-outs was high impact, and each had an individual dog story that was engaging and real. More than 3,000 dogs were found homes as a result of the campaign and many shelters ran out of dogs. Best of all, the campaign delivers beautifully one simple message about the brand: Pedigree loves dogs.






Choose a Different Ending

The London Metropolitan Police wanted to demonstrate the consequences of carrying knives. More and more young people were carrying knives in the mistaken belief that this would protect them when in fact the reverse is true. BBDO’s ‘Choose a Different Ending’ appeared on YouTube, unbranded, as an interactive film. The campaign was seeded online and by mobile phone before employing social media, search media, in-game posters, blogs, posters, radio and TV. The film campaign put the viewer in the position of a teenage boy on a London estate. Each film ends with an invitation to choose what happens next. Once a viewer has concluded the path they have chosen, they’re invited to ‘Choose a Different Ending,’ an ending both for the film, and for their life. There were 21 films, 10 different endings. This incredibly successful campaign created enormous peer-to-peer debate and drove 78% awareness. A wonderful execution born of clear insight that facilitating dialogue, not preaching, is how to resonate with this target.


Canon EOS Photochains

This campaign from Leo Burnett, Australia was the Grand Prix winner. The campaign to promote the new Canon EOS camera to photographers was developed based on a clear consumer insight – that great photography is not about technology, it’s about inspiration. Consumers were invited to post pictures that were inspired by a small detail of a previous photo that had been posted, thus creating ‘photochains’, connected photographs each inspired by the previous posting. The campaign used paid media to lead people to an engaging online experience that tapped into the power of social media. The campaign spread virally and hundreds of photochains were created. It integrated social networking, technology and advertising to connect the photography community on a brand platform of ‘Inspiration.’ Any camera can take pictures. Canon EOS inspires! Beautiful!