International Advertising Festival: Saatchi snags Lion's share at Cannes

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Rght now, David Droga is the world's hottest creative director. The Saatchi & Saatchi U.K. creative department he runs in London swept this year's International Advertising Festival, propelling the Saatchi network into the No. 1 slot for Cannes Lion winners by a huge margin.

The young Australian's 10 trophies-for Agency of the Year, the press & poster Grand Prix and 8 Lions-are lined up in the huge, airport-like reception area of Saatchi's 300-person London shop. That was the site of a celebratory bash June 27 so big that the agency was officially closed the following day.

Publicis Groupe's Saatchi was also one of only two networks-along with Omnicom Group's TBWA Worldwide-to win Lions this year in each of the festival's awards areas: film, press & poster, cyber, media and the first-ever direct-marketing Lions. (The chart at top right ranks networks by Lions won in the high-profile film and print awards; the second chart includes all five competitions.)

It was a rare creative eclipse for the Omnicom networks that usually dominate international awards shows. BBDO Worldwide placed second, with DDB Worldwide coming in third based on TV and print Lions, but sixth when cyber, media and direct Lions were factored in.

The addition of the media Grand Prix won by Interpublic Group of Cos.' Universal McCann and three direct Lions won by McCann-Erickson Worldwide and its direct marketing subsidiary MRM boosted McCann to tenth place.

Saatchi also showed great breadth in the scope of its award-winning U.K. creative work. Winners ranged from the controversial Club 18-30 print campaign that won the press & poster Grand Prix (AA, June 24) by flagrantly parading the sexual promise that lures young British holidaymakers to a heartbreaking commercial called "Cartoon" for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. In the spot, an abusive father bludgeons, trips and burns a cartoon boy who keeps bouncing back unhurt. In the last frame, after the father has tossed the boy down the stairs, the cartoon character vanishes and a real little boy lies crumpled on the floor, proof of the deadly reality of violence.

contrast

Saatchi's sizzling U.K. performance, led by Mr. Droga, who moved to London three years ago as executive creative director after a stint in Singapore, where Saatchi was soon sweeping Asian creative awards, is in stark contrast to Saatchi's New York agency. That shop didn't take home any Lions; Saatchi's Torrance, Calif., office picked up two, one a Gold for the popular Toyota Celica "Dog" spot.

Saatchi's creative dominance wasn't enough to unseat Omnicom as the top-scoring holding company with three powerhouse networks and 73 Lions, but it did secure a second-place finish for Publicis Groupe with 37 Lions. (See chart ranking holding companies above; the chart includes wins not just by their international networks but for all their agencies, such as Publicis-owned Fallon Worldwide, Interpublic Group of Cos.' Carmichael Lynch, Springer & Jacoby and Mullen, and Omnicom's GSD&M and Rapp Collins.)

There were fewer wins this year for small independents. One exception was Canada's Taxi, a 10-year-old, fiercely independent Toronto shop run by Paul Lavoie, which picked up three press & poster Lions.

For millions of Italians, the Cannes festival won't really be over until July 6. That's the day Italy's leading TV network RAI 1 will televise an hour-long program created by Bcom3 Group's Leo Burnett Co. to showcase the agency's amazingly accurate annual pick of the 50 spots from around the world likely to do best at Cannes (this year 21 won Lions, including the Grand Prix).

predictions

Burnett's forecast of Cannes winners is an international project, but the Italian agency was inspired four years ago to rent an 800-seat cinema in Milan and invite the ad community to come watch the predictions reel and cast their own votes for Gold Lions and Grand Prix. At first, Chairman-CEO Alessio Fronzoni feared few would turn up. "More than 2,500 people lined up," Mr. Fronzoni said. "We had to call the police!"

Last month 4,000 people-at least one-third of them marketers-turned up in four cities to view the ads and vote, this time in front of TV cameras.

If this week's broadcast garners at least a 12% audience share, RAI 1 will help defray the event's nearly $350,000 cost and guarantee to produce and air live next year's Leo Burnett Cannes event, with the audience voting from home.

"It's no more expensive than a big party in Cannes," Mr. Fronzoni said.

Plus, he saves headhunters' fees by reeling in and hiring young creatives who eagerly attend the event and consistently pick Lion winners.

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