|AdAge.com's Jack Neff is embedded with P&G forces in Cannes.
P&G ASKS CANNES ATTENDEES TO CRITIQUE ITS ADVERTISING
Top Agency Execs' Assessment: Professional but Boring Work
P&G'S JIM STENGEL GETS STATESMAN'S WELCOME IN CANNES
Festival Fawns on the World's Largest Advertising Client
LARGE P&G DELEGATION HITS CANNES
28 Executives Arrive With Special Journals in Hand
Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi arranged for special front and center seating in rows eight to 10 for its clients. Without enough special-entry stickers to go around for the embedded reporter, I slipped in, too, amid the P&G throng and behind seven-months-pregnant spokeswoman Gretchen Muchnick, giving my best "Je ne parle pas Anglais" passing glance to the Cannes Lions gatekeeper, who faintly tried to check my invitation.
(It was my second-least chivalrous act of the week, behind riding in the front seat of P&G Global Marketing Officer Jim Stengel's Cannes Lions-supplied private car on the way to one of P&G's agency parties at Mr. Stengel's behest as he, his wife, Kathleen, the aforementioned Ms. Muchnick and her husband, Mark, shared the back seat.)
None of the four P&G short-listed entries garnered even a Bronze Lion. Adding the slightest bit of injury risk to the insult, the P&G contingent was pelted by orange-sized clumps of undispersed confetti, which had been lobbed mortar-style into the front rows after the surprise announcement that Crispin Porter & Bogusky's "Lamp" spot for Ikea was named the Grand Prix winner.
Swam Palme d'Or
Afterward, at a reception and dinner hosted for P&G by Saatchi at the swank La Palme d'Or in the Martinez, Mr. Stengel said he was generally unimpressed by many of the award-winning entries. But there was no crying in the champagne and little bitterness among the P&G, Saatchi, Leo Burnett and Publicis suits and creatives gathered for the event.
P&G wasn't really expecting major hardware at the film awards in its maiden voyage to Cannes, though it did win three Lions in print. Privately, P&G marketing executives admitted that ads they had considered edgy looked much less so alongside the shortlisted competition, and some suggested they should evaluate future ads on reels surrounded by competitive work. P&G ads generally got neither
|Photo: Jack Neff|
|The P&G contingent exits the Palais after the awards, including (couterclockwise from front left) Brigitte Cerfontaine and Sharon
Cunliffe, advertising development directors in Belgium; Lynne Boles, global advertising manager; and Vivienne Bechtold, global marketing director, both
based in Cincinnati.
Another foreshadowing of the awards performance both of P&G and Saatchi had come earlier Saturday when Saatchi's CEO, Kevin Roberts, addressed P&G's Cannes debriefing session. "This is a lottery," Mr. Roberts said. "There are all kinds of things that go on in the jury room that aren't about work. The important thing is to be in contention."
But he added: "We can't make you famous here on our own."
Booing the Bangkok Lion
And the quality of some of the Lion-winning work seemed to confirm the lottery theory. Even the polite Cincinnati contingent was stirred to a few boos for some ads, such as the Gold Lion awarded to Omnicom Group's BBDO, Bangkok, for "Belly Button Face." In the 75-second spot, two sons seek revenge on the plastic surgeon who facelifted their mother so severely that she was left with a pierced navel as her only facial orifice. The ad was for Giffarine EQ-10 Skin Care, offered as a better alternative to such radical surgery.
"They thought that was better than Axe?" asked Lynne Boles, global advertising development manager, incredulously as the Gold Lion was announced. She and several other P&G marketers held the Axe work for rival Unilever in high regard, but it took only a Silver to BBDO's Gold. Mr. Stengel, in fact, had invited John Hegarty, principal with one of Axe's agencies, Bartle Bogle Hegarty, to be on the panel that had critiqued P&G work earlier in the week, but he declined because of the Unilever conflict.
The Axe humor is more likely to appeal to both men and women, Ms. Boles said, having earlier noted that
|Photo: Jack Neff|
|Tim Love, vice chairman-international of Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi; Robert Jongstra, vice president, hair care for Procter & Gamble Co. in Geneva; and Olga Barr, global creative director for Saatchi & Saatchi in London on the Head and Shoulders brand, chat as they wait to enter the Palais de Festivals for the Film Awards.
Even without taking home a film lion, P&G ended up looking smart in the critic's selection for the Press Grand Prix. Omnicom's TBWA, whose CEO, Jean-Marie Dru, had been on the outside agency panel that reviewed P&G's work on Thursday, took Agency of the Year honors over prohibitive favorite Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, whose CEO, Dan Wieden, also was invited but unable to attend the P&G panel.
Regardless of this year's outcome, coming to Cannes was an investment in winning future Lions for P&G, said Bob Isherwood, global executive creative director for Saatchi. The clincher in attracting Sarah Barclay, a multiple Lion-winning creative recently hired as head creative for P&G's flagship Tide brand in New York, was P&G's decision to come to Cannes, he said.
Mr. Isherwood has taken P&G's push to raise the creative bar very personally. He told the P&G delegates that he had confided to his wife several weeks ago that he was fretting about the presentation
|Photo: Jack Neff|
|Jeroen Pietryga, P&G assistant brand manager on the laundry business in Belgum, wasn't selected to go with the P&G group to Cannes. But he wanted to go so much that he paid his own way to be a delegate and took a week's vacation to so. Creatives he works with from Publicis' Leo Burnett Co. took him under their wing during the festival, but he also attended the Saturday
P&G debriefing with the official members of the delegation.
Stengel takes a fall
But Mr. Stengel's Spider Man-like tumble down a flight of steps after picking up an honorary Lion at the 50th Anniversary Gala on Wednesday helped prove literally what some of P&G's agency creatives were learning at Cannes: P&G people can be more flexible than they thought.
"Jim will now forever be known in our company not as Jim Stengel but as Gym-Nast because of his acrobatics on stage," Mr. Roberts said.
The bigger trick may be making what Mr. Stengel indicated will be some of the big changes P&G needs for its advertising development process to become more Lion-worthy. "We understand you've had many learnings this week," said Cliff Francis, global executive creative director for P&G at Saatchi and all of P&G's Publicis business, in a post-award toast at La Palme d'Or Saturday night. "But there's a saying: Before learning can take place, behavior must change."