Saatchi, DDB take Cannes Lion's share

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Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi and Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide tied for creative supremacy and most Lions won by agency networks at the International Advertising Festival last month, followed closely by Omnicom's BBDO Worldwide.

Saatchi's biggest boost came from its Brazilian agency, F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi, winner of eight Lions and the coveted Agency of the Year title awarded to the individual agency that scores the highest at the festival.

In fact, the agency of the year is almost always from Brazil, a usually relaxed country that pursues Lions and other creative awards with rabid seriousness. Brazil was the second-biggest festival entrant this year after the U.S., spending close to $1 million on entry fees, and egged on by a huge press corps of 42 Brazilian journalists, compared with just 15 each from the U.S. and the U.K.

The two closest contenders for agency of the year status after F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi were the Brazilian agencies of DDB and BBDO, DM9 DDB and Almap/BBDO.

Reflecting the status of Brazil's top creative directors as major celebrities in their own countries, festival CEO Romain Hatchuel introduced the agency's CEO-creative director at the awards gala as "Fabio Rock Star Fernandes."

Despite the networks' impressive tally, the most prestigious Grand Prix, for TV, went to an independent U.S. shop. The Fox Sports commercials by Cliff Freeman & Partners, New York, contrasting ludicrous made-up regional sports like cliff diving with the more relevant sports aired on Fox, were a popular choice for the TV Grand Prix (AA, June 25).

Independent creative agencies with a single office like London's Mother and South Africa's Jupiter Drawing Room in Johannesburg scored more Lion points than entire networks such as Havas Advertising's Euro RSCG and Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann-Erickson Worldwide and FCB, which became part of Interpublic during Cannes week with the True North Communications acquisition. (See chart for explanation of points.)

At the holding-company level, Omnicom won more than twice as many Lions as any of its rivals, with three of the top seven most creative networks. The group entertained in proportion to Lions won, as all three Omnicom agencies held lavish parties June 22 on the beach at Cannes. By walking a few blocks along the beachside Croisette boulevard, it was easy to have drinks with BBDO, dine with TBWA and dance till 3 a.m. with DDB.

At most of the holding companies, a single creative network accounted for most of the group's points. At Interpublic-including Lions from Lowe Lintas & Partners Worldwide; McCann; FCB; Springer & Jacoby; Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos; Carmichael Lynch; and Modem Media, an i-shop backed by True North-Lowe contributed almost half of Interpublic's points. And Saatchi scored 109 of Publicis' total 132 points from Saatchi, Publicis and Fallon.

There may be more Lions next year. In a test of how far the festival can extend the Cannes brand-which already encompasses TV, press & poster, media and cyber Lions-a marketing services event is likely to be added in 2002. Mr. Hatchuel, the festival's CEO, said a marketing services event would be scheduled at the end of the already full weeklong ad festival.

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