In an incredibly strong year for Americans at Cannes, Nike and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, late last week won the film Grand Prix for three TV spots -- titled "Tennis," "Golf" and "Running" -- in which athletes participating in those mainstream sports are treated with the kind of brusqueness and disdain more typically reserved for skateboarders.
Earlier in the week, the press and poster Grand Prix went to a series of 13 Volkswagen of America ads, supporting the new Beetle and created by Arnold Communications, Boston. It's the first time the U.S. won the print Grand Prix since the festival created that category in 1992.
U.S. STRONG IN LIONS, TOO
Apart from the two Grand Prix, the U.S. won 12 of 23 Gold Lions awarded, including three for Miller Brewing Co.'s quirky Miller Lite campaign created by Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis (see Bob Garfield's Ad Review on Page 53).
GOODBY VS. WIEDEN
Significantly, the two rivals for Nike's U.S. business -- Goodby and Wieden & Kennedy -- both picked up Lions for their work, but there was a huge difference in status. While Goodby was feted as the first U.S. Grand Prix TV winner since 1994 (Bozell, Southfield, Mich., won that year for a Jeep Grand Cherokee spot), Wieden won two Silver Lions for Nike -- one for the Portland, Ore., office and the other for the agency's Amsterdam office.
The U.S. also did well in the festival's first interactive advertising awards, picking up 10 of 16 gold Cyber Lions. The U.K. scooped up the Grand Prix with a Web site created for photographer Frank Herholdt (www.frankherholdt.co.uk) by Hub Communications, London. To display the winners, Time Inc. New Media is creating a minisite within its Pathfinder Network (www.pathfinder.com) with links to the winning Cyber Lion sites.
In other awards, DM9 DDB, Sao Paulo, was named agency of the year, based on a complicated calculation involving the number of Lions won and how many of the agency's ads were short-listed.
The Palme D'Or, the prize for the production company that won the most Lions, went to Radical Media, New York.
Arnold's Grand Prix for its VW worked is part of a new beginning in the history of head-turning ads for the Beetle. That tradition began with the car's forebear and advertising created by Doyle Dane Bernbach. Arnold -- after beating out DDB Needham Worldwide, still VW's agency in many countries, last year for the U.S. relaunch of the Beetle -- created ads that are strongly reminiscent of DDB's classic work for the original car.
Arnold, for instance, matched DDB's "Lemon" ad with the word "Lime" next to a green Beetle.
ALL EYES ON VW
During the week, festival delegates speculated whether VW would win an unprecedented two Grand Prix, with London agency BMP DDB's highly applauded U.K. TV work for VW's Polo joining the print Grand Prix shortlist. It took a Gold Lion. Of 38 car spots short-listed, 12 were VW work from six countries and three agencies.
The beer category turned into a creative shoot-out between Fallon's Miller Lite work and Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser lizards, via Goodby, with 12 spots each out of 36 on the shortlist.
Festival entries this year rose 9.5%, to 4,926, for TV and 6.7%, to 7,097, for print and poster; more growth lies ahead.
NEW AWARDS PLANNED
The Cannes festival is planning to add effectiveness awards next year and start a three-day media event, probably in February 2000, to run several months away from the main gathering.
The effectiveness awards will be less numbers-based than the American Marketing Association's Effie awards, said Dennis Fogarty, president-CEO of Screenvision Cinema Network, the festival's U.S. representative.
"We'll take into account a great strategic idea, the media approach and research findings, and how it's communicated," he said. "The fact that it drove a Nielsen share up 3 points is not what we want to do."
Roger Hatchuel, Cannes festival chairman, said the new event will be for media planning and buying executives. Lions are to be awarded and exhibitions and demonstrations held.
"They have the money, but there's been nothing for them" to attend, Mr. Hatchuel said.