The United States won its second consecutive Grand Prix for TV when the International Advertising Festival jury gave the top honor to Cliff Freeman & Partners' hilarious campaign for Fox Sports. * The New York agency's campaign contrasts Fox Sports' relevant coverage with sports from far-flung regions such as India and Turkey, using ridiculous made-up sports like two guys hitting each other with bats and cliff diving directly into the ground. The tagline for the effort is, "Sports from the only region you care about. Yours." * In addition to the Grand Prix, the U.S. won 15 of 70 TV Lions, including 24 Golds. One of those Golds also went to Cliff Freeman and Fox Sports, for four commercials, "Utah," "Los Angeles," "New York," and "San Antonio." The agency winning the most Lions was Brazilian: F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi, Sao Paolo.
Unlike last year, when all of Cannes echoed with the cry of "Whassup!?!" in myriad accents mimicking Anheuser-Busch's spots from Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide, this year's festival was dominated by the drive to stamp out scam, or ghost ads, an issue spotlighted in a recent cover story in Advertising Age on June 11.
The specter of ghosts was so prevalent that Bob Isherwood, worldwide creative director at Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi and president of both the TV and print & poster juries, planned a daring stunt as a finale to the June 23 night's black-tie awards show. At the event, Mr. Isherwood and his 22 TV judges were set to appear on stage dressed as ghostbusters. Their outfits-boiler suits and ghost-catching traps-were ordered, and a logo of a ghost was designed as a backdrop for the stage.
But late June 21, Mr. Isherwood changed his mind. "We think it would trivialize the hard work we've done on a serious subject to turn it into a stage stunt," he said. Instead, he said, he will pass to future jury presidents a list of the worst scam ad offenders (see story below).
The TV jury threw out more than a dozen suspected fake ads. Shining the light on ghosts "will be his legacy," said Dennis Ryan, a U.S. TV judge and executive creative director of WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson, Chicago.
Mr. Isherwood's print & poster jury cracked down by throwing out of the show two print ads from Spain and Germany that would have won Gold Lions. He said one agency was asked to supply a tearsheet proving its ads had run; instead, the agency scrambled to produce a letter saying the campaign had been approved by the client. "We withdrew the Gold, withdrew it from the shortlist and withdrew it from exhibition," Mr. Isherwood said.
In another instance, the client for a suspicious ad was called as the jury debated giving the ad a Gold Lion. The client explained that some people from the agency asked permission to enter an ad they had created for the festival for the client's product. "[The client] said, `We're really pleased we're going to get an award,"' Mr. Isherwood said. "They're not going to get an award. It's a clear violation of the rules. They're both gone."
The Festival would not confirm the agencies and advertisers involved, but it's believed they were an Alka Seltzer ad by Omnicom Group's Tiempo BBDO, Barcelona, and a vegetarian restaurant ad from Xynias Wetzel von Buren, Munich. Senior officials at both agencies could not be reached at press time.
There were no easy winners this year. In the film (TV) category, a close contender was a commercial for John West's red salmon by Bcom3 Group's Leo Burnett Co., London, showing the lengths to which the company will go for the freshest salmon. "There was a lot of feeling for John West, but at the end of the day, John West was one commercial" while Fox Sports was a full campaign, said Mr. Isherwood. "[Fox Sports] just overwhelmed John West with their consistency."
The Media Lions jury, divided among two contenders for the Grand Prix, finally chose a third campaign from MDC Communications Corp.-backed Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Miami, for a Florida anti-smoking campaign.
Press & poster judges were deadlocked for hours; Omnicom's Paradiset DDB, Stockholm, was the eventual winner for a bizarre Diesel print campaign, beating Havas Advertising's U.S. effort from Arnold Communications, Boston, for Volkswagen.
The other competition, for Cyber Lions, awarded two Grand Prix winners. Swedish dairy company Fjallfil and agency Farfar, Stockholm, let visitors create their own zany dance video featuring the dancing cow, the symbol for Milko milk. Nike and Omnicom-backed Critical Mass, Calgary, Canada, won for a site that allows people to customize and order athletic shoes.
Contributing: Anthony Vagnoni