|'Grrr' was created by the same Wieden & Kennedy London crew that made last year's 'Cog.'
The award was announced by John Hunt, the Film jury's president and worldwide creative director of TBWA Worldwide, at a press conference earlier today and at a ceremony in the Palais des Festivals this evening.
A festival favorite
The commercial was a favorite of festival goers and critics alike. For instance, Ad Age Ad Review columnist Bob Garfield picked it last week as the spot that was most worthy of the top prize. "Grrr" has already collected a number of other honors, including Best of Show at the One Show, the Grand Clio, a Grandy and eight British Design & Art Direction Awards.
"It's such a unique spot," Mr. Hunt said about the brightly animated commercial featuring a flock of diesel engines flying playfully among flora and fauna, set to a Garrison Keillor-crooned track, "Can Hate Be Good?"
"Just somehow the sum of its parts come together to make it so unique," he continued. "The soundtrack is beautiful, the animation. The idea is such a simple proposition and it entranced us all. When rewatching the commercials, often you see two or three frames and move on, but I noticed the jury didn't mind watching that one again. It's just one of those commercials that entertains you as it sells you and the premise is blindingly simple."
17 or 22 jurors
According to Mr. Hunt, the 22-person jury arrived at its decision with very little debate. "In the end, because there was the sense that 'Grrr' was probably the Grand Prix, I asked the jury to write secret ballots for their first and second favorites for the award. Seventeen chose 'Grrr' as their first choice. For second, the Adidas spot, 'Hello Tomorrow,' and a few others were also mentioned. But there was no discussion about the Grand Prix. It was way mathematically ahead of anyone else."
From a selection of 4,996 entries out of 74 countries, the jury awarded a total of 18 Gold Lions to work from 10 countries. The U.S. earned the most golds with five, followed by the U.K. with three. Two each went to France and Thailand while Brazil, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Peru each earned single gold honors. The jury also bestowed 32 silver and 52 bronze awards.
Among the gold winners were a pair of comedic mock anthropology documentary campaigns -- one for Altoids, out of Leo Burnett, Chicago, and TBWA Worldwide, London's PlayStation U.K. "Life on the PlayStation" series featuring unlikely encounters of various "demographic" groups like golfers and porn stars. An Olympus campaign out of Springer & Jacoby also earned gold, as did a noted jury favorite for Viagra, out of Taxi, Toronto, featuring satisfied blue-pill-poppers whose post-coital raves to random peers are cleverly bleeped out as their mouths are masked with the Viagra logo.
Gold also went to a pair of Adidas spots out of TBWA/Chiat/Day -- "Unstoppable" and "Hello Tomorrow," which also earned a gold Lion for music, performed by Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and composed by Sam Spiegel of Squeak E. Clean.
Agency of Year: TBWA Paris
The Agency of the Year award went to TBWA Worldwide, Paris, followed by DDB Worldwide, London, in second place and DDB Paris in third. The Palme d'Or went to MJZ, whose spots earned three gold Lions, two silver and a pair of bronze. Biscuit followed in second, and the now-folded Large placed third. The Journalists' award went to "Grrr."
Overall, Mr. Hunt said the quality of the work lay at opposite poles. "From the whole body of work I get a sense more and more there's very good work and there's very lousy work," he said. "There's nothing in the middle anymore. When you look at the categories, you'd get four or five that would score very high and the rest very low. It's almost as if the ad industry is saying that if you do a mediocre ad, it's the same as doing a lousy one. You do great advertising, or it's wallpaper."
Mr. Hunt also said he saw no definitive trends, but from a general perspective, "I've seen more humor back in advertising. Maybe we're allowed to be a little lighter, which I think is a happy return from a few years ago, when you felt guilty if you laughed." Beyond that, "technically, I think there is a creative crutch emerging, where there is over-engineered work in which postproduction becomes the idea. You have something that's a beautiful piece of art, but it's not related to a concept."
Death of the 30-second spot?
Commenting on the ongoing industry-wide debate about the death of the 30-second spot, which has been a major theme at this year's festival, "I'm not sure if the 30-second commercial has died, but the discussion of the 30-second commercial has buried it many times," Mr. Hunt said.
"I think it's just as stupid to say that the 30-second commercial is dead as it is to say that the 30-second commercial is the only game in town. Maybe 10 years ago, it was the most powerful medium for everyone. The world has definitely changed. The 30-second commercial is in a different place, but it's still the center of 90% of the world's campaigns. And it's not about to evaporate over the next couple weeks. I think a lot of the work we saw celebrates the fact that this is a very powerful creative medium and it's going to be with us for a very very long time."