Cannes Toasts the Devolution of Humankind

Victory for Guinness' 'Noitulove' Caps a Thronged and Jovial Festival

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CANNES (AdAge.com) -- If 2004 was the year of the marketer as clients stormed the beaches of the Cote d'Azur, and 2005 was the year of agency intrigue as Havas tried to seduce TBWA's Jean-Marie Dru, then this year's Cannes ad festival was, well, festive-and perhaps just a little less TV-centric than usual.

At the opening-gala dinner, Chairman Terry Savage had to turn away ticket-holding delegates as the Carlton Beach overflowed with 2,900 partying festival-goers-a record for the Tuesday-night opener. Even buttoned-down Brit Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP Group, showed a lighter side, parodying himself in a scripted rant about getting rid of creative departments, most agency staff and even clients.

So while Guinness' and BBDO's "NoitulovE" took the Cannes Grand Prix for film, and the U.S. snared four of the week's nine Grand Prix awards-though not one Gold Lion in film-it all played out against the colorful, intoxicating and celebratory spectacle that is Cannes.

With a half-dozen World Cup games a day, it was impossible to avoid giant TV screens tuned to soccer matches. Jubilant Brazilians wearing green jerseys and draped in Brazilian flags took over the Majestic Hotel on Thursday night as their team beat Japan 4-1. Even Bob Jeffrey, JWT's chairman-CEO, wandered into the Majestic lobby after attending a villa party with his Unilever clients wearing a Brazil T-shirt. Part of attending Cannes is endless discussion about how the industry is changing, he said, but "there's no more debate about what needs to be done, just how fast you can do it."

For most American delegates, the World Cup was a noisy backdrop to the festival, but Europeans and Latinos shuttled between Cannes and their countries' games in Germany. Fernando Vega Olmos, jury president for the outdoor Lions and president of Vegaolmosponce, Buenos Aires, handed out the prizes on Tuesday night, and was in Frankfurt on Wednesday to watch Argentina tie the Netherlands. He flew back into Nice the next morning.

Agency executives followed their favorite soccer teams' scores as avidly as they tallied their agencies' Lions. And that's getting harder to do as the festival adds contests at the rate of one a year-sales promotion this year, radio last year and design Lions in 2007. The packed seminar schedule now starts early Sunday afternoon and wraps up at 6 p.m. on Friday, morphing throughout the week from direct-marketing and media topics to a panel with actor Martin Sheen and blogger Arianna Huffington.

Because the first seven contests-direct, sales promotion, media, press, outdoor, cyber and radio-are over by Wednesday and film has its own awards show Saturday, the 30-second spot still is enshrined as the week's grand finale. That may change as the industry does. Of this year's more than 8,500 delegates, almost 1,700 registered for a four-day package running through Thursday and were gone before the film contest heated up.

And there was heat: Guinness' "NoitulovE" from Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, London, was in a virtual three-way tie with "Balls" by Fallon, London, for Sony's Bravia TV and "Big Ad" for Foster's Australia Carlton Draught beer by George Patterson Bates, Sydney. "Everyone loved all three ads," said David Droga, the film- and press-jury president.

Clients have become a regular part of the Cannes scene. It's no longer unusual to spot a clump of Clorox marketing directors poolside at the Majestic or a phalanx of Procter & Gamble executives on the Carlton terrace. Following P&G's acquisition of Gillette, a lone Gillette executive, Marketing Director Steven Fund, joined P&G's Cannes contingent this year. P&G's popular Bernhard Glock, manager-global media and communication, rides to Cannes on his motorcycle from Switzerland and is becoming as much of a festival fixture as some longtime creative directors.

But Cannes is still the place where a drunken Aussie delegate accosts a high-ranking P&G executive at the Gutter Bar and tells him, according to slightly less inebriated eyewitnesses, in unprintable language how awful P&G's work is.

U.S. winners

Despite winning almost half the Grand Prix awards this year, the U.S. didn't pick up a lot of Lions in most contests except cyber. In the cyber awards, the U.S. won the most Golds-nine of 25-and Crispin Porter & Bogusky was named Interactive Agency of the Year. Crispin won two Grand Prix for client Volkswagen, one in cyber and another in the new promo Lion category.

Mr. Droga picked up the other cyber Grand Prix, for his new agency Droga5's first work, a viral hoax for fashion brand Ecko. And DDB, Chicago, and Anheuser-Busch won the radio Grand Prix for the second year in a row for Bud Light's "Real Men of Genius" campaign.

The film contest was dominated by the U.K., which won half the 12 Gold Lions. The U.S. won eight Silver and 12 Bronze Lions for film.

The U.S. won three of 27 Promo Lions, in addition to the Grand Prix. In press, where the Grand Prix went to FCB Johannesburg, South Africa, for Lego, the U.S. picked up one of 11 Golds and three Bronze Lions. In direct marketing, the U.S. took only one Silver and two Bronze Lions out of 71 awards; that Grand Prix went to I Do, Brussels, for a Belgian newspaper client.
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