***FLASH***Canada bags its first Lions at Cannes

Leo Burnett takes an Outdoor Campaign Gold for James Ready and a Radio Campaign Bronze for Gain, while Cossette and Yellow Pages nailed Media Bronze.

James Ready Beer’s ‘Share our Billboard’ campaign by Leo Burnett Toronto maintained its award-winning streak with a Outdoor Gold Lion today, the only win for Canada in the category.

Outdoor jury president Akira Kagami, executive officer and global executive creative director, Dentsu, said the 13-strong jury spent a lot of time defining the category parameters in the face of new technologies and media. The user-generated billboard campaign – which has also won a gold Clio, a silver One Show Pencil, two Andy awards and the Obie Best of Show this year – was held up by the jury as an example of the future direction of outdoor advertising.

‘It’s a wonderful example of what we are talking about,’ said Outdoor judge Alexandre Peralta, CEO of StrawberryFrog Brazil. ‘James Ready is a simple billboard, but you use technology to spread the message. So James Ready is a billboard that more people noticed because they are interactive…you could ‘buy’ the space, you could send the message.’

Outdoor judge José Mollá, founder and ECD of Miami-based La Comunidad, said that ‘trying to encourage people to help keep the beer cheap is brilliant, and also made all the executions different, so when you see the whole campaign together it’s very powerful.’ Which is why the three executions entered earned the Gold campaign nod, despite the numerous interactive entries this year.

The jury said they saw lots of talking billboards and interactive posters, as well as some standouts such as the Gold Lion-winning ‘Melody Road,’ a safety awareness campaign for Dunlop Falken Tires by Dentsu Razorfish Tokyo, in which driving a car on a stretch of road at exactly 40 miles an hour triggers a song. Jung von Matt of Hamburg won a Silver Lion for an interactive poster for Amnesty International that uses eye-tracking technology to raise awareness about domestic violence, so the violent scene passersby see out of the corner of their eye reverts to a happy family scene when you look straight at it. ‘[There's] a lot of that kind of technology emerging,’ said judge Rob Belgiovane, Partner/ECD at BWM in Melbourne. ‘But it still got back down to the powerful ideas.’

The Grand Prix winner was the ‘Trillion Dollar’ campaign for the Zimbabwean by TBWAHuntLascaris of Johannesburg. The outdoor executions criticized the country’s regime by using the devalued currency as paper, with taglines such as ‘Thanks to Mugabe this money is wallpaper.’ Kagami said what set it apart was the ‘social awareness’ element.

‘Ultimately, we felt as though awarding this to something like the Zimbabwean may be the last time traditional outdoor wins a Grand Prix,’ said Belgiovane. ‘What we found with the Zimbabwean is that the media can be the message, and printing these posters on the trillion dollar notes lent power to this idea…You can still have traditional outdoor and have it compete in a powerful way.’

Canadian entries in the Outdoor category were up slightly this year to 144 from 137 in 2008, out of a total of 4,498 entries submitted. After paring this down to a shortlist of 512, the jury awarded only 69 Lions, for both individual executions and campaigns, in the category. Canada did not win any Outdoor Lions in 2008.

Radio: where less is more when it comes to Lions

Four entries from Canada were among the 33 entries deemed Lion-worthy by the toughest jury at Cannes thus far. Factoring in campaign wins, only 15 Lions were given out for big ideas in radio.

Radio jury prez Matthew Bull, CCO at Lowe Worldwide, South Africa, admits that they deliberately put a lid on the Lions tally in order to put forward a body of work that was truly exceptional. When asked by MiC if there were less Radio Lions given out this year, Bull replied that yes, ‘there are significantly less.’ This year there was one Grand Prix campaign, one Gold Lion campaign and just two Silver Lions (compared to the 15 handed out last year). Only 11 Bronzes made the grade this year, while last year there were 27.

‘From a standards point of view, we want this to be a show people look at and are inspired by,’ Bull says, adding that having an ‘absolutely superb jury,’ of which he asked for and received absolute honesty, allowed them to ‘deliver on that.’

In terms of specific criteria, ‘we wanted to reward ideas and great clients,’ says Ball, adding that the point they wanted to make was, ‘when you consider creativity, you need a great client as well.’

The Campaign Bronze Lion in Radio encompassed executions ‘Pool’, ‘Spanish,’ ‘Crumple’ and ‘Morning’ for P&G’s Gain laundry detergent brand, created by Leo Burnett Toronto.

When MiC asked Bull which of the winners comprised the best example of client bravery, he turned the question to Canadian juror Jenny Smith, creative group head of Target Marketing and Communications, who cited the Gain pool. Essentially, the jury felt the Leo Burnett campaign had ‘great storytelling, brave writing,’ and found it ‘very humourous and very different for that client, Procter & Gamble.’

As to the strategy behind putting a focus on client bravery (aka sell-through difficulty), Smith explains: ‘This year in particular we awarded work that was hard to create…We took a look at the actual client – for instance, condom or bar ads are much easier to create than say, detergent. It’s incredibly hard to get good work through working with tough clients; you have to have an excellent relationship.’

‘The jury was very impressed with the writing, the production and the freshness of the [Gain] work for that category,’ explains Smith, adding that ‘it almost made Silver. Every time we listened to these spots, there was a laugh. With the standards this year, Bronze is an incredibly excellent award to win. Everything that made the shortlist was excellent.’

The Grand Prix campaign was awarded to a pool of spots that begin ”Plane’ insanity by Virgin Atlantic.’ The David Lynch-esque spots ‘Dancer,’ ‘Dog’ and ‘Ferret’ launch into strange stream-of-consciousness tales that open like: ‘I don’t often eat caviar for breakfast…’ or ‘A dog followed me home from the supermarket…’ all with elliptic references to Virgin Upper Class travel seemingly randomly thrown in.

Bull says the campaign, created by Net#work BBDO, Johannesburg, fit the criteria mark on every aspect, adding that it required an ‘exceptionally brave client to have the vision to buy that work.’

Another sign of Grand Prix worthiness, according to the jury, is that the spots got better and better with repeat airing.

As did the single Gold Lion-winning campaign for National Thoroughbred out of Devito/Verdi New York, which uses humour to highlight the comparative excitement of going to the races, over say, the perils of staying at home, via blow-by-blow commentary on a typical boring weekend narrated in an overly-excited horserace style format.

In a curious aside, radio is the one category bucking the hooking-up-with-digital trend, with the jury reporting they saw maybe one piece of work out of over 1,153 entries that linked to digital.

Media: Raised bar, and medal count

The mission for the Media jury this year was to raise the bar of media thinking globally, according to Cannes Festival CEO Philip Thomas, who said they were sending a message to media agencies: ‘We’re recognizing media for what it is: great creativity, great execution and business results.’

Jury president Nick Brien, president and CEO of Mediabrands, says ‘we decided to raise the bar at every level; we were very rigorous on every category; we rejudged everything twice. We were very determined that when we reached a final decision, everyone was satisfied.’

Curiously, while the Media category handed out 55 medals last year, this year 122 entries were deemed Lions-worthy.

Brien says they ‘upweighted the focus on ROI and accountability’ and decided to only recognize entries with the highest level of awards when the ideas drove results. Brien says one focus was solutions that worked and another was the level of innovation around digital. About 27% of entries were from media agencies, and the belief is that moving forward, the business results and ROI elements will skew it more to the media agency realm.

Cossette Media Toronto’s efforts for Yellow Pages Directories was one example of media thinking that passed muster, and was awarded a Bronze Lion for its ‘Huge Yellow Darts’ campaign. The campaign was comprised of multiple executions across Toronto, placing big yellow darts (representing Yellow Pages search-and-find abilities) in unexpected places: patios, in buildings, parking spots, all adjacent to a service you would be looking for.

Canadian judge Lauren Richards, CEO of Starcom MediaVest Group, says the Yellow Pages campaign was ‘definitely worthy of Lion recognition, and the judges appreciated the logistical difficulties behind such an undertaking.’

Richards was ‘really disappointed we didn’t have more Canadians shortlisted and winners; there’s lots of work that was recognized in other global awards, which for some reason didn’t make it here. To get on the shortlist here, the first round is judged by four people. It could easily be four people that don’t agree on breakthrough work. That shouldn’t discourage people from entering; we’ve done better in the past, and I’m sure we will again next year.’

When asked about this year’s judging experience versus her previous gig as a Cannes Media juror, Richards observes, ‘the majority of the entries [this year] were from creative agencies that had nothing to do with media innovation and creativity. When I judged before, it was the second year for Media, and creative agencies hadn’t yet decided it was an easier place to get a Lion.’

The Media Grand Prix went to a ‘Kit Kat Mail’ campaign out of JWT Tokyo. The idea was to position the Nestlé snack bars as good luck bars, and encourage gifting prior to exams. They built on this in a first-ever brand, government and post office partnership, introducing Kit Kat Mail. The mailable bar product was available in 22,000 post offices, with no competish in sight, and some stores even had Kit Kat takeovers. Now a permanent product in the post office as a broader ‘good luck mail,’ it yielded $11 million worth of free publicity, and Kit Kat is now synonymous with good fortune.

Another Media jury fave was the Zimbabwean newspaper ‘Trillion Dollar’ campaign that took two Golds and two Bronzes. South African juror Marc Taback, CEO of Initiative Media, describes it as ‘brilliant work with very little media spend,’ and says the novelty of the trillion dollar note, which ‘you can’t even buy a loaf a bread with’ suddenly had value when the notes stuck on posters were removed and made their way out into the world.

The Cannes Media Agency of the Year nod went to Dentsu, Tokyo, followed by Famous, Brussels, and Shalmor Avnon Amichay/Y&R, Tel Aviv.