CANNES CAN'T AWARD GRAND PRIX

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CANNES-Acrimony and growing unhappiness swept through the final days of last week's International Advertising Festival in Cannes. In an almost unprecedented move, judges refused to award a Grand Prix in the film or the press and poster competitions to the shock of many.

"It's the worst judging in the history of Cannes," said Rick Fizdale, chairman/chief creative officer of Leo Burnett Co., Chicago, as rumors of few golds were rife even before the final results were announced.

One unhappy film juror, with second thoughts about the lack of a Grand Prix, appealed to the jury president, U.K. adman Frank Lowe, a few hours after judging ended June 23; Mr. Lowe immediately offered to reconvene the panel. Plans were made to reassemble the film jury June 24 just before a news conference to announce the results, but insiders considered it unlikely the jury would change its mind about the Grand Prix.

Longtime Cannes goers had a sense of deja vu as they recalled the 1980 festival when jury president Barry Day awarded no film Grand Prix-and very few Gold Lions. Entries and attendance suffered the following year, a trend festival officials fear could be repeated.

The two juries, both headed by Mr. Lowe, gave no Gold Lions for the press and poster competition and just 11 for film, compared with 81 for press and poster and 22 film golds last year. Of the 11 film golds, four went to the U.S., four to the U.K., two to the Netherlands and one to Brazil.

Of the 36 silver and bronze awards for the press and poster competition, the U.K. got 18; Australia and U.S., two apiece; the Netherlands and Brazil, three each; Hong Kong, four; and Switzerland, Canada, Spain and Singapore, one each.

The only commercial the majority of film jurors agreed on for the Grand Prix was a public service announcement for Queen Elizabeth's Foundation for the Disabled People by Abbott Mead Vickers/ BBDO, London, called "Eggs."

PSAs are ineligible for the Grand Prix, so the spot was granted a special jury award.

Mr. Lowe, chairman of the Lowe Group, London, said four golds were so close in votes that the jury decided not to elevate one to Grand Prix status.

The four were "The Wall" from Wieden & Kennedy, Amsterdam, for Nike; a Pepsi-Cola Co. spot featuring a kid who vanishes into a Pepsi bottle, from BBDO Worldwide, New York; a Levi Strauss & Co. spot called "Drugstore," from Bartle Bogle Hegarty, London; and an Abbott Mead Volvo spot of a meteorologist following a storm.

"One juror told me if we push for a Grand Prix, 70% of the jurors would leave feeling that the Grand Prix was not the one they voted for," Mr. Lowe said.

A total of 36 bronze and silver press and poster Lions were awarded this year, vs. 83 Bronze, Silver and Gold Lions in 1994.

"You can look for the best work ever done or look for the best work done in the year," said Marcello Serpa, partner and creative director of Almap/BBDO, Sao Paulo, and a press and poster judge. "Frank Lowe chose the former. I think we should look for the best work done all year."

Dennis Fogarty, president-CEO of Screenvision Cinema Network, the festival's U.S. partner, estimated only 30% of festivalgoers informally polled agreed with not awarding Gold Lions if creative work was not "stellar."

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