|Photo: Laurel Wentz|
|Alessio Fronzoni, chairman-CEO of Leo Burnett, Milan, is exploiting Burnett's annual Cannes predictions for their broader entertainment value.
The Burnett reel is a videotape containing 50 TV spots from around the world selected as the most likely candidates to win at the Cannes International Advertising Festival. Each winter it is eagerly awaited and earnestly watched by American agency and news media staffers who need to get up to speed on what Cannes will be buzzing about as judges and attendees assemble in the south of France each June.
Over the years, Burnett's annual selections have garnered a reputation for being an amazingly accurate reflection of what ultimately does well in the festival competition. This year, for instance, 21 of the 50 selections won Lions, including the Grand Prix.
In Italy, Burnett, which is part of Bcom3 Group, has begun to promote the entertainment value of its annual collection of predictions to an audience much lager than that of ad industry insiders.
In fact, for millions of Italians, the Cannes festival won't really be over until Saturday, July 6. That's when Italy's leading TV network, RAI 1, will televise an hour-long program created by Burnett around its predictions tape.
Agency rents cinemas
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 theater events in advance of the festival and consistently pick Lion winners.