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Cannes 2009

TV Is Snubbed as Philips, Tribal DDB Win Film Grand Prix

Interactive 'Carousel' Take Top Cannes Honor as Jury Says Film Is No Longer the 'Pinnacle' but One Tool Among Many

By Published on . 4

CANNES (AdAge.com) -- A sign of the changing times: Tribal DDB persuaded Philips to launch an international movie theater-proportioned TV set brand with a digitally focused campaign that embodied the cinematic experience the Philips Cinema 21:9 is selling. The film jury at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival agreed that's the way forward by awarding "Carousel" the Film Grand Prix, which has traditionally gone to the world's best commercial.

"Film for many years was the pinnacle of a business that has changed," said Richard Bullock, a film juror and executive creative director of 180 Amsterdam. "An idea is no longer manifested in a single TV ad. We're a bigger and more eclectic mix. Film is now one of the tools."

The Cannes festival opened the film category to other screens such as computers and phones last year, and the 2008 jury diplomatically selected two Grand Prix: one for Cadbury Dairy Milk's beloved drum-playing "Gorilla" TV commercial by Fallon, London, and one for HBO's "Voyeur." (In 2007, the Film Grand Prix went to an ad, Dove's "Evolution" by Ogilvy & Mather, Toronto, that was famous as a viral film but was eligible for the film category by virtue of a brief TV airing.)

Two Grand Prix considered
"We considered giving two Grand Prix and dividing them into digital/interactive and true, pure TV," said Ted Royer, a film juror and executive creative director of Droga5. "But those lines are blurring so much we wanted to make a statement. We dismissed the two-Grand Prix idea and went for the strongest piece of work."

Interactive work is also changing, and is no longer just about considering something a success because it spreads virally around the world.

"It's not just about the cat that can play the piano," Mr. Bullock said.

David Lubars, film jury president and chairman-chief creative officer of BBDO North America, described the Grand Prix-winning "Carousel" as a "magnet." Shot in one long cinematic take that ends, or begins again, with the opening shot of a cop with a gun, "Carousel" pans a frozen moment in an attempted armored-car heist gone wrong. It's a brilliant film by itself, and becomes a film-within-a-film by rolling over the cursor at certain points to see how the film was made or to see a demo of the Philips Cinema 21:9 TV, he said.

"It's only going to get bigger," Paul Gunning, CEO of DDB Worldwide, said after the film press conference. "We'll take the idea and make sure it extends into all the platforms. We're looking at the best ways we can take something consumers have clearly latched onto and make it more portable."

Gary Raucher, head of integrated marketing communications and VP of Philips consumer lifestyle, said "Carousel" was viewed online 500,000 times in the first two-and-a-half weeks, and has had more than 1 million visitors to Philips.com since its April launch, although many more have watched it on YouTube and other video sites.

Celebs come calling
He said that rather than seeking celebrity endorsements, as many marketers do, Philips is finding that celebrities are coming to his company wanting to be part of "Carousel." One well-known performer is interested in leveraging a "Carousel" connection within the artist's new music video, Mr. Raucher said.

Philips appears in the title sequence, and the way the movie is framed suggests the new TV. But instead of blatant Philips branding, Tribal DDB embedded subtle signs that users have to look for in repeated viewings. For instance, the TV is sized in cinema proportions of 21 by 9 that give the Philips Cinema 21:9 its name, and that number can be spotted as the license plate number on a police car and elsewhere throughout the two minute and 19 second film.

The vast majority of the 88 Film Lions awarded went to commercials; just 10, apart from the Grand Prix, went to entries from "other screen" categories. U.S. agencies took home two Gold, 11 Silver and five Bronze awards.

The film jury picked "Carousel" out of five contenders for the film Grand Prix. One was another internet entry, a popular series of French film parodies by Mother, London, for Stella Artois. The other three were TV commercials: "Love Distance" for Sagami Rubber condoms by GT Tokyo; "Pure Waters" for James Boag's Draught by Publicis Mojo Sydney; and "Dog/Fish" for Volkswagen by Almap BBDO, Sao Paulo.

Advertiser of the Year
Although the official Advertiser of the Year at the festival was Volkswagen, Cannes goers could be forgiven for thinking it was Obama, and the broad-based effort to get him elected to the presidency. The awarding of both the Titanium and Integrated Grand Prix to Obama/Biden 2008 was the culmination but other juries looked for ways to honor the various efforts, like the Lions in multiple categories for Droga5's "The Great Schlep." One adored film wasn't truly Cannes-eligible. That was a challenge for the film jury, which decided to award a special jury commendation to "Wassup '08," a vote-for-Obama update of Charles Stone's iconic "Wassup" spots for Anheuser-Busch. He re-united the original cast, now leading lives of despair, and ends with Obama's image and the words "Change. That's wassup."

Mr. Lubars said that Mr. Stone, the director, entered the film himself and that it would have been unfair to others to award it a Lion because there was no paying client, so the commendation was the solution the jury hit upon.

"As a stand-alone political statement, it's second to none," said juror Bil Bungay, co-founder and creative partner of Beattie McGuinness Bungay, London. "It's beautiful, and absolutely captures eight years of Bush. But there are rules. A piece of advertising has to be commissioned."

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