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Nike's 'Write the Future' Scores Cannes Film Grand Prix

By Published on . 1

"Write the Future," the blockbuster Nike spot created out of Wieden & Kennedy, Amsterdam, that imagines the potential future of various soccer stars should they go on to win the World Cup, took home the Film Grand Prix at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity.

The film debuted in late May 2010, just missing the window for entry into last year's competition. Since then, it has gone on to win top awards at other industry shows, including the One Show and the Art Directors Club. It bested another athletics brand, Puma, whose "After Hours Athlete," out of Droga 5, emerged as the other frontrunner for the top prize.

What it is: The three-minute film, directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu ("Babel," "21 Grams") of Independent Film and Anonymous Content, kicked off Nike's global World Cup marketing campaign. The narrative depicts dazzling outcomes for soccer elite such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Franck Ribery should they go on to win football's top prize, as they have monuments built in their honor, babies named after them and guest appearances on "The Simpsons."

The jury: Y&R Global Chief Creative Officer Tony Granger presided over 22 jurors from 20 countries.

Controversy, or clear winner? As "Write the Future" and "After Hours Athlete" (which tonight also earned the film craft Grand Prix after earlier winning the outdoor Grand Prix) rose to the top, after multiple voting sessions, Nike prevailed. "We had two very, very strong contenders," Mr. Granger said. "Both are beautiful, timeless, brilliantly executed films. Every single detail in both those films has been polished and meticulously looked at. We were inspired by both. And after a lot of deliberation and re-voting, which was really neck and neck, 'Write the Future' won."

Why it won: "The most difficult brief that comes across a creative's desk is to create a global film that connects locally, and this one certainly does," Mr. Granger explained. "It reveals a truth about the brand in a wonderful way and it's absolutely, meticulously created. There was a lot of really good debate about [Puma and Nike]. Then I asked the jury to watch the two commercials and vote from their heart, and I think this one just connected more emotionally. They're both absolutely brilliant, but I think one was more emotionally connective. The whole way the movie creates an emotion and leaves you feeling very inspired, pumped up. You feel really good after watching this commercial.

Other standouts: Mr. Granger noted the jury was "very, very proud of the Golds. I don't think we left any Golds on the table." Among those were Volkswagen's Super Bowl spot "The Force," out of Deutsch, Los Angeles; Heineken's "The Entrance," out of Wieden & Kennedy, Amsterdam; BBDO Canada's Skittles campaign that invites the audience to 'interact" with a series of films by placing their fingers on the screen; and a pair of Google efforts, Bartle Bogle Hegarty, New York's "Chrome Speed Tests," and Johannes Leonardo's "Demo Slam" campaign.

Lions Awarded: From a total of 3,310 submissions, the jury awarded 57 Bronze Lions, 30 Silver and 14 Gold. The U.S. earned the highest number of Lions at 27, Argentina came in second with 11 and the U.K. placed third with 10.

Trends: Did Nike's win indicate a trend toward blockbusters for the category's top winners? "I don't think the Grand Prix showed a trend toward big production," said Mr. Granger. "What did shine through this year was the simplicity, the simplicity of an idea. When you look at Nike, the idea is really simple. You can rewrite the future and make your own. All the Gold winners reveal a truth about their brands in a surprising way. The Golds all behave quite differently in terms of production value. It's the idea that made them Golds."

Other big film wins: This year's Cannes Palme d'Or, which goes to the highest scoring production company with at least ten films in competition, was presented to Smuggler, U.S. Smuggler's U.K. office also placed eighth in the top ten.

Coming in second was O Positive, followed by MJZ in third. Fourth place went to Stink, U.K., fifth to Hungry Man, U.S., sixth to Primo, Argentina, seventh to Independent, U.K., ninth to Rabbit, U.S. and Sonny London placed tenth.

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