WHO COULD ASSIGN A FLAVOR OF LION TO GUNN'S CONTENDERS? I CANNES

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So the International Advertising Film Festival at Cannes begins this week, and Leo Burnett's Donald Gunn is out with his annual Grand Prix prediction and champagne-to-the-winner Cannes Predictions Sweepstakes. As usual, we are not impressed.

Donald's press release boasts about how he chooses from among 4,000 spots to handicap the International Advertising Film Festival. Big deal. I do the same thing, under the Gunn, using only the 57 spots on his shortlist reel. Moreover, I'm predicting not only the Lion winners from that reel, but the specific metallurgy, which is macho beyond words. When this competition is over, I will not only have a nice bottle of Leo Burnett's champagne, but also finally be recognized as an incredibly resourceful god of ad-fest predictions, a Cannes dieu guy, one might say.

Meantime, it is my hope to personally destroy Mr. Donald Gunn. It's hard to believe in this day and age a man can make a living by sitting around watching TV commercials all day, but in a week, when Donald is humiliated beyond redemption and the job is vacant, I believe the position should go to its rightful occupant: me. Who else, after all, reaches for an average of 21/2 stars a week?

Now then ...

This year features a larger than usual number of truly hilarious commercials, most of them from the U.S. Several will get Gold Lions: "Tollbooth" from New York Lotto, the latest close-up on nouveau riches, this one featuring a toll taker sending motorists on through-his treat (and Donald Gunn's sadly incorrect pick for the Grand Prix). "Firefly" from Timex, about a lightning bug with the hots for a Timex Indiglo wristwatch, to Frank Sinatra's "Strangers in the Night" (a perfect TV commercial that should win the Grand prix, but will not). "Aaron Burr" from the California Milk Board, about a guy who blows a radio phone quiz because his mouth is too full of peanut butter. "Tattoo" (Netherlands) from Central Beheer Insurance, about a phone call's effect on a reluctant sailor's new tattoo. "Wake Up" (South Africa) for Aspro Clear effervescent analgesic, about a husband's novel way to deal with his nocturnal stirrings.

Silver Lions: "Phonebooth" from Lee jeans; "Here's an Idea" from Rib Tickler's barbecue sauce; "Le Vie en Rose" (Japan) for Lion toothpaste; "Ray Charles" (France) for Peugeot, in which Ray, at the Bonneville Salt Flats, is driving a car!

Bronze Lions: "Summer of Love" for Pepsi; "Italian Feast" from Little Caesars; "Toilets" (Netherlands) from Karwei home centers; "On the Road" (Norway) from EMS postal.

And those are just the funny ones. Silver Lions will also go to a wry and inspiring Nike spot called "Kenya," about incredibly dedicated long-distance runners; Black & Decker's "Sharpei," wherein a steam iron removes the wrinkles from a dog; a French Perrier spot, animating a company of toy "Legionnaires"; a stirring British Telecom visit with "Stephen Hawking," on the subject of voice communication; and lastly and certainly leastly, "Testing for the Unexpected," a ridiculous and extravagant Dunlop Tires spot from the U.K. in which sundry freaks and perverts supposedly represent road hazards.

In the end, though, the Grand Prix can go to only one advertiser-and it will be the advertiser that should have won last year: Central Beheer Insurance. "Tattoo" is but the latest, funniest example of the televised calamities. And if this Dutch treat is snubbed again, a calamity it will be.

Ad Age Bulletin Board on Prodigy, or by Prodigy E-Mail at EFPB35A.

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