IBM and Ogilvy France Win Outdoor Grand Prix

'Classic' Campaign Designed to Make Urban Life Easier Impresses Judges

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With half the week’s 16 Cannes contests decided, IBM is only the second big marketer to win a Grand Prix. The company won for its outdoor structures that make life a smidgen better in its “Smart Ideas for Smarter Cities” campaign. (The other major marketer to score a Grand Prix at this week’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity was Heineken, the creative effectiveness winner with “Legendary Journey” by Wieden & Kennedy, Amsterdam.)

What it is: Each outdoor structure is a simple idea to make urban life a bit easier. In "Shelter," raindrop curves form a blue-and-white awning on an IBM billboard that offers shelter to pedestrians on a rainy day. In another execution, the billboard extends along the ground to form an impromptu ramp over a short flight of stairs. A third structure offers passersby a bench to sit on. On the normal billboard part, each carries the slogan “Smart Ideas for Smarter Cities."

Why it won: Praising the IBM campaign as “classic outdoor,” Jury President Tony Granger said: “We’d like to give the Grand Prix to work that could only live in outdoor." Mr. Granger, who is global chief creative officer of Young & Rubicam, said the campaign brings IBM’s smarter cities strategy to life, and “the design is great.”

Controversy or clear winner? Mr. Granger had each jury member nominate their Grand Prix favorite and defend it passionately. Three contenders emerged. One was another Ogilvy campaign, from the U.K., for travel site Expedia. The clever idea was to piece together the three-letter abbreviation codes for airports around the world to spell out travel-related messages. One favorite: “WSH EWE WRE ERE." Others included “GRY SKY” and “MUM DAD IOU.” The images so perfectly replicated the destination tags airports put on checked baggage that they resonated with the jury. “You see these luggage tags every day because we all travel so much,” said Sarah Barclay, executive creative director, JWT, New York.

Other notable contenders: The big competition was the blood-donation campaign “My Blood is Red and Black” for a Brazilian soccer team by Leo Burnett Tailor Made, Sao Paulo (not to be confused with the organ-donation campaign for a Brazilian soccer team by Ogilvy Brazil that won the promo and  activation Grand Prix on Monday). Mr. Granger said the jury was initially split about 50/50 between Expedia and IBM, but in the end IBM got two-thirds of the votes.

Lions awarded: The outdoor jury sifted through 5,613 entries to award 25 Gold Lions, 43 Silver Lions and 71 Bronze Lions. Doing more math than most jury presidents, Mr. Granger said that amounted to 0.45% of all entries winning Gold, 0.75% taking Silver, and 1.26% picking up a Bronze Lion.

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