'Evil little rabbit'
"Fast" is not only the name of the campaign for VW's speedy GTI model, but also the brand's icon. Lor Gold, president of the Promo Lions jury, described "Fast" as "a weird, evil little rabbit, with eyes almost in the shape of a VW grille."
"It's not about the GTI as much as about the consumer of the GTI," said Mr. Lor, whose day job is exec VP-chief creative officer, Draft, Chicago. "They figured out an icon that brands the consumer and lets the consumer express his need for speed. It's a bad-boy icon, a dangerous icon, that urges you toward fast."
Olympic athletes' totem
VW gave away a "Fast" replica as a gift to customers who bought cars, and had athletes touch it to help their speed at the last Olympic Games. But the company didn't discourage consumers from making the icon their own, customizing it in everything from T-shirts to paint jobs on cars.
In choosing the Grand Prix, the sales promotion jury was split 50-50 between VW and an Adidas entry from New Zealand called "Be the Ball" by Whybin TBWA, Auckland, that exemplifies the Adidas tagline "Impossible is nothing." "Be the Ball" is simply a huge soccer ball that three friends enter through a small door. They hear a kick, and the ball catapults up 15 or 20 stories as if snapped by giant rubber bands, and then bounces down again.
"Volkswagen is fast and very dark," Mr. Gold said. "Adidas is smaller, very extroverted, but just as powerful an idea. They are both about bringing you very close, if not inside the brand."
"We expanded the idea of promotions," he said, describing the jury's work. "It's everything you'd put into branding, but within a short period of time, and including whether you hit your sales goals and objectives."
Since Promo Lions is a new prize at Cannes, the jury had the opportunity -- and the responsibility -- to define what a Promo Lions winner should be. The basic judging criteria were 40% creative, 20% strategy, 20% execution and 20% results, but Mr. Gold said, "a lot of people are going to scratch their head and wonder why they voted on that."
"We're putting a lot of emphasis on creativity and less on science," he said. "We're trying to elevate creative to what you'd see in the film category."
Some of the winning work may be more a sign of where the promotions industry is going, rather than traditional work typically seen today.
"Is it a promotion or isn't it a promotion?" he said. "[We voted] if we knew it was sales promotion in our hearts, even if it's two years out. This is going to be a guide to how we're going to do things. Promotion is about moving forward."
Among Promo Lions winners he particularly liked, Mr. Gold cited South Africa's "Ghost Trolley" (by Network BBDO, Johannesburg), in which a remote-controlled shopping cart filled with Simba snacks follows shoppers around the supermarket, and an entry from India called "Firestarter" by JWT, Mumbai. The work for the PepsiCo India Holdings brand vividly demonstrates how hot and spicy Frito-Lay snacks are by having stunt people walk down a boardwalk munching the snack, which causes their clothing to spontaneously catch on fire.
The new category attracted 622 entries. The jury awarded 27 Lions plus the Grand Prix. In addition to the Grand Prix, the U.S. picked up three other Lions. Leo Burnett, Detroit, won for putting General Motors Corp.'s Pontiac model on the TV show "The Apprentice"; Remerinc, Seattle, got a Lion for a campaign called "Keyword Mania" for Bill Gates' photo agency Corbis; and Lowe, New York, was a winner for an Inbev U.S. campaign called "1.25."
The country that won the most Sales Promotion Lions -- a total of six -- was Germany, a nation that is rarely a big winner at Cannes.