A festival official called to invite Managing Partner-Creative Gary Topolewski June 24, the day before the awards were presented. But Mr. Topolewski and other creatives who worked on the winning Jeep commercial were in California shooting a new Eagle campaign, also for client Chrysler Corp.
"When I heard the news, my first thought was `You've got to be kidding,'*" Mr. Topolewski said. "It didn't settle in for a day or two."
Jay Schulberg, vice chairman-creative director for Bozell Worldwide, New York, was in Cannes and picked up the award along with Chrysler Marketing Manager-Europe Fred Cody.
Bozell was the first U.S. agency to win the prize since 1986, and the first Detroit shop to ever win the Grand Prix.
The award enhances Bozell's standing with Chrysler.
"All of us at Chrysler, and especially at the Jeep/Eagle division, are very excited to have one of our commercials awarded the highest and most prestigious advertising award in the world," said A.C. "Bud" Liebler, Chrysler's VP-marketing and communications, in a statement.
The Cannes triumph is also an unexpected payoff on Bozell's recent acquisition of CME KHBB's Detroit area office, said to have cost $15 million. Mr. Topolewski and his creative team worked on Jeep/Eagle at CME KHBB when they proposed the commercial. Bozell bought the agency to combine with its own Southfield office that already handled Chrysler corporate advertising and the Chrysler/Plymouth division.
Impetus for the spot came from Chrysler's $56 million sponsorship of CBS' Winter Olympics broadcast in February. Chrysler decided to make Jeep one of the featured brands to capitalize on the go-anywhere capabilities of the sport-utility vehicle line.
Mr. Topolewski "looked at hundreds of concepts," including one from Senior Art Director Andy Ozark. Inspired by Bugs Bunny cartoons, Mr. Ozark conceived the idea of a Jeep burrowing a tunnel through snow.
"I knew if we could make that work, it would be incredible," Mr. Topolewski said.
The agency creative team for the "Snow Covered" spot also included Peter Pohl, senior copywriter, and John Van Osdol, partner-Jeep/Eagle national broadcast production.
Director Eric Saarinen of Plum Productions in Santa Monica, Calif., and Digital Domain, Venice, were hired for the project.