Kemp Robertson: Auto Entries Strongest Ever

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Cannes 2003: The year of the car?
The International Advertising Festival gets underway next week, and what would Cannes be without the Leo Burnett Prediction Reel? The reel -- an annual selection of 50 spots from around the world that has become a definitive, if unofficial, preview to the Festival -- began circulating last week. Last year, 21 of the 50 campaigns that made the Leo reel ended up winning Lions, and the reel has failed to include the Film Grand Prix winner only once.

So what does Paul Kemp Robertson, Leo Burnett's worldwide director of creative services and compiler of the prediction reel, think of this year's crop of contenders?

"I was slightly disappointed with the overall quality," he says. "We've been saying that for the last five years. If you take all the brands that are featured year in, year out -- Nike, Levi's, Ikea and so forth -- they're good, but we've seen a sort of gradual decline." On the other hand, one category appears to be surging this year with breakout work for brands like MINI, VW, Saturn, Honda and Peugeot. "The automotive category this year is probably the strongest it's ever been," he notes. "And a lot of what we had to do in creating the reel was to get rid of some of the car ads."

When it comes to picking a Grand Prix winner, Kemp Robertson specifically points to the Honda "Cog" spot from Wieden + Kennedy/London and a Peugeot commercial from Italy, plus Crispin Porter + Bogusky's "Lamp" commercial for Ikea and a series of outrageous spots for MTV Latin American, which -- he says -- gets the the biggest reponse from live audiences. "That was the one thing that felt really diferent," he says of the MTV campaign. "It disrupts more than any other of the ads. Perhaps because it's so far out."

In the end, however, Kemp Robertson leans toward "Cog." "My own personal choice would be Honda," he says, "but I could see it going to Ikea or Peugeot."

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