***FLASH***Five Cannes Film Lions for Canada – and Silver for the Young Lions

'Obama For America' wins both the Titanium and Integrated Grand Prix.

Canada kicked off the weekend with five medals in the Film category at Cannes, bringing our 2009 Lion haul up to a baker’s dozen – 13. Taxi won a Gold Campaign Lion for its Viagra hobbyist spots ‘Antiquing,’ ‘Strolling’ and ‘Reading’ in Pharma, which Canadian jury member Ogilvy co-CCO Janet Kestin described as ‘a really strong category’ all around.

The win is the latest in a string of Lions for the agency for the erectile dysfunction drug, the most recent being ‘Wombleminki’ in 2007. Taxi has held the account since 2000, and the Pfizer brand began advertising on television in 2002. ‘It’s incredibly hard to keep a good thing going,’ says Kestin. ‘There are not a lot of long-running campaigns that manage to stay fresh. But they’re always strong; I’m blown away by how smart they remain, and this is the best one in a while.’

Out of the five Film medals, three were awarded for ongoing campaigns. Cossette Toronto won a Silver Campaign Lion for its graphic, gross-out Pizza Pops work ‘Karate Chop,’ ‘Monkeys’ and ‘Robot Friend’ for General Mills Canada. And Ogilvy won a Bronze Campaign Lion for the second phase of its ‘Diamond Shreddies’ campaign, namely the spots ‘Graph’ and ‘Letters,’ in which a faux company president responds to feedback from real consumers on the Diamonds debacle. Kestin said the jury treated each spot individually. ‘I would have thought if you didn’t know the idea [from] last year that you would go, ‘huh?’ In fact a huge number of people on the jury had never seen the campaign but they got it in one second, they thought it was hilarious and they loved it. I was surprised.’

Toronto-based Doug Agency took home a Silver Film Lion for its CFC/Worldwide Short Film Festival spot ‘Scooter’; the campaign also won silver at the LIAs in London in 2008. BBDO Canada won Bronze for ‘Taxi,’ a 15-second tropical escape for Pepsi-QTG’s Tropicana Tropics juice brand.

The Film Grand Prix was awarded to Philips Cinema 2:19 online interactive film ‘Carousel’ in a unanimous vote. Shot in a single tracking shot, the robbery gone bad – which can be paused to discover films within the film – is an example of what jury president David Lubars, chairman and CCO of BBDO North America, called the way TV can move forward. ‘All of us were blown away and delighted by it,’ he said. ‘It’s beautiful, just a great piece of creative.’

Film judge Richard Bullock, ECD at 180 Amsterdam, commented on the changing nature of the category and how that is reflected in the choice for the Grand Prix this year. ‘The winner in the category came from outside traditional broadcast TV; it came from the online world. An idea is no longer manifesting itself in the single TV ad…Film is now one of the tools, not the tool.’

The jury also made a special commendation for ‘True Vote,’ the remake of Budweiser’s iconic ‘Wassup’ campaign made by LA-based Believe Media to support the Obama presidential campaign last year. Because it was an independent effort as opposed to a commissioned work, it was not eligible for a Lion, but the jury wanted to honour it all the same. ‘As a standalone political statement it is perhaps second to none, it’s just beautiful,’ said jury member Bil Bungay, co-founder and creative partner at Beattie McGuinness Bungay in London.

Out of a total of 3,453 entries, 260 were shortlisted and 88 were awarded medals. Lubars said the jury exercised extreme rigour in narrowing down the contenders twice, from a longer to a shorter shortlist. ‘Everything should be earned,’ he said, noting that there were very few ‘trifle accounts’ entered this year, but rather ‘real companies with real problems that creativity has helped solve.’

Also announced this morning were the winners of the Young Lions Film competition, in which Chris Booth and Joel Pylypiw of DDB Toronto won Silver for their animated effort for FilmAid International. The non-profit org brings films to refugees around the world for education and entertainment, and Kestin, who also judged the under-30 competition, says the Canadian entry communicated this message perfectly: the hand-drawn animation shows a child walking through a landscape to a film screen which turns into a door which he then walks through, providing an escape from reality. It received a unanimous vote and a standing ovation from the judges.

‘It’s super exciting, [we're] a bit surprised and very curious as to what all the other teams came up with because it was a really tough brief this year,’ says Booth, who with Pylypiw is back as Canada’s Young Lions Film team for the second year in a row.

And for the final Lions adjudication, Titanium and Integrated, the jury defined Titanium as ideas that create a movement, and for Integrated, they celebrated great ideas that were made better throught multiple touchpoints. Thusly, the ‘Obama for America’ campaign orchestrated by David Plouffe won the Grand Prix in both categories. Jury president David Droga, founder and creative chair of Droga 5, New York, says ‘the way they tackled new media was second to none,’ adding that the jury was impressed by the way the campaign’s novel social-media strategy turned a political campaign from a one-dimensional effort to something coming from the whole country.

Droga explains that the Titanium jury is always looking for the work that shows the industry ‘we’re better than we think we are’ and inspires greater accomplishments. ‘It was a risky strategy, I’m sure, when they started to roll this out.’

Canadian judge Steve Mykolyn, Taxi CCO, says where the creativity came in to play was ‘like all great advertising, it was designed to obliterate the competition.’

Indian juror Prasoon Joshi, McCann Erickson executive chair and regional ECD, explained that although Cannes rules say foundations are not eligible for Grand Prix, ‘we decided Obama is a brand, and that’s why it could win a Grand Prix.’

Although it was shortlisted, Unilever’s ‘Body and Soul,’ the Dove Pro-Age-commissioned play out of Ogilvy Toronto, was not among the 15 Titanium and Integrated Lions awarded. Mykolyn commented that the play was ‘in great company’ and that the jury felt that it did fit into the ‘movement’ calibre of ideas they were looking for. ‘Making this shortlist is a huge accomplishment; less than 5% of entries made the shortlist and less than 3% take home awards. To me, getting on this shortlist is like winning a medal in any other category. As Canada penetrates this shortlist more, one day we’ll take home that Titanum Lions and Grand Prix.’

Tying up the loose award ends, DDB Brasil was awarded Advertising Agency of the Year, which goes to the agency with the highest score for entries in the Press, Outdoor, Film and Radio sections. BBDO took the Network of the Year title for the third year in a row, since it was created to recognize the agency network which receives the most points across all 12 categories. [Cannes Lions organizers erroneously announced DDB as network of the year, and subsequently issued a correction: the correct ranking is BBDO, DDB, Leo Burnett, Ogilvy & Mather, and TBWA.]