Steve Harrison, chairman of the jury and worldwide creative director of Wunderman, said, "I briefed the judges not just to look for work they wish they had done themselves, but to look for work that's come from a brief that they would have taken the day off work to avoid."
The judges obviously listened to their chairman. The "Need a job" campaign for De Tijd was a potentially dull assignment. But I Do in Brussels responded cleverly by creating an imaginary job application letter. I Do then consulted the "help wanted" sections of Belgian newspapers and sent the spoof letter directly to employers actively looking to hire staff. (The letter encourages human resources professionals to send off for a brochure produced by De Tijd).
'Poignant and convincing'
Mr. Harrison said, "It was a poignant and convincing letter, but it took us four days to realize how brilliant it was. It only just squeezed onto the shortlist, but then one of the judges spoke up and said, 'Do you realize how bright this is?' We hadn't understood its cleverness at first."
De Tijd faced stiff competition, however, from a very different campaign –- the brash, vibrant and populist "Lynx Jet" work by Lowe Hunt, Sydney, for Unilever's Lynx deodorant line in Australia, featuring a fictional airline and some provocatively dressed stewardesses.
"[Lynx Jet] was my choice," Mr. Harrison admitted. "It is an excellent brand response campaign that reinforces and refreshes the brand while engaging the audience." However, the work lost vital votes because some of the judges found it offensive.
U.S. won only three of 71 awards
Australian entries were generally strong, Mr. Harrison reflected, but he said the U.S. entries were still "more about the sequence from data strategy to fulfillment and less about the big idea." The U.S. won only one Silver and two Bronze Lions out of 71 awards at the ceremony tonight.
This is the fourth year of the Direct Lions awards. Mr. Harrison, who has previously been a judge and a Grand Prix winner in this category, was impressed by the overall quality. "For the first year, 80% of Golds had a real combination of creative impact with rigor of data and response," he said.
Drop in entries
Entries to the Direct Lions this year suffered the biggest drop of all the categories –- down 6.5% –- a fact that Mr. Harrison attributed to the elimination of the preliminary round of local judging. The result, he said, is that "it generates less local excitement and, of course, there were fewer judges involved, who tend to enter their own work."
Mr. Harrison presided over 30 judges –- the largest number ever to sit on one jury at Cannes. "They were all lovely," he said, "and they didn't split into factions. I didn't give anyone the shortlist because once they see that, they realize who is doing well and split into voting blocks."