Cannes Lions

Epic Split: Cannes Direct Marketing Jury Torn Between Volvo and Porn

Jury Members Spent Three Days Trying to Define Direct Before They Could Deliberate

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Volvo's 'Interception' effort
Volvo's 'Interception' effort
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With more digital and social media tactics infiltrating traditional marketing work, juries are struggling to first define a category before they can decide what constitutes a winner. This was the issue at the heart of Grand Prix deliberations in direct at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

It took the direct jury three days to define direct, and then until 1 a.m. on the last night of deliberations to choose between a campaign for a porn site and a Volvo Super Bowl hack.

After a long and arduous deliberation the jury awarded the grand prix to Volvo's "Interception" by Grey New York. The brand, instead of advertising during the Super Bowl, chose to go around the biggest and most expensive advertising event of the year. The company encouraged viewers to tweet the hashtag #volvocontest, and the name of a person they loved, every time they saw another car commercial during the Big Game for a chance to win a car. The company saw a nearly 70% sales lift attributable to the effort, the jury said.

"It's a changing category now and we saw that in the entries and work and it really challenged us," said Judy John, direct jury president and CEO and chief creative officer of Leo Burnett Canada.

At the end of the day, the room was split between the Volvo effort and "#Handsoff," a campaign by Marcel Paris for porn company Marc Dorcel. In an effort to keep porn-goers on a site and make money at a time when free porn is not hard to come by, the company forced users to keep their hands on the keyboard, discouraging them from wandering downward. If they removed their hands, the screen would go blank.

"It was so genius. People were trying to hack it and put things on top of keyboards so they could have their hands free. But it was a very creative piece," said Ms. John. "That and Volvo are two very different examples. It was a very passionate discussion between two different sides that went late into the night. We had to go for a walk and come back; that's how heated it got."

The struggle between the two very different campaigns stemmed from an inability to define direct in this shifting marketing ecoystem, and thus what constituted brilliant direct.

The judges finally agreed that direct in today's very digital and social environment needed to be targeted (you know who it is you're talking to); trackable in its response; and linked to the product, said Rob Morrison, a member of the direct jury and creative director at OgilvyOne in Australia. "There were occasions where something was brilliant and it had worked really well, but it was not tightly tied to what we were actually selling."

Mullen Lowe creative exec and jury member Mark Wenneker was initially split, but he was ultimately swayed by Volvo's brilliant idea and results, which left a mark on direct marketing and advertising overall.

"We had two debates, he said. "One was what's going to be the piece that defines advertising this year and leaves that mark. The second debate was what does brilliant direct mean and what defines direct. Those two didn't always come together."