Cannes 2009

Yes, We Cannes: Obama Campaign Takes Titanium and Integrated Grand Prix

A Unanimous Jury Cites the Effort's Digital Savvy

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CANNES (AdAge.com) -- The Obama/Biden presidential campaign won both the Titanium and Integrated Grand Prix, thanks to the effort's digital savvy, its success in community-building and its willingness to allow the Obama brand to be created by consumers rather than top-down communications mandates.

The jury, presided over by Droga5 head David Droga, said there were no real challengers for the top prizes. Three other Titanium Lions were awarded: to Burger King and Crispin Porter & Bogusky for the "Whopper Sacrifice" Facebook app; for NYC & Co. and Warner Bros' "Dig Out Your Soul" from Bartle Bogle Hegarty; and to the Jewish Council for Education and Research and Mr. Droga's agency for the Sarah Silverman-starring, pro-Obama effort, "The Great Schlep." Eleven Integrated Lions were awarded: two Gold, four Silver and five Bronze.

Anticipating criticism
In a press conference here at the International Advertising Festival, the jurors anticipated two chief complaints that would arise from picking a winner such as President Barack Obama's election effort.

First off, public-service campaigns, which one might argue the Obama campaign is, aren't traditionally awarded Grand Prix. "It's a brand campaign," said Prasoon Joshi, the famous Indian creative and McCann Erickson executive. "It's the first time consumers have co-created a brand ... and its something the advertising industry can't ignore."

The other was that the most successful components of the Obama campaign weren't necessarily executed by the campaign itself but by outsiders from will.i.am to Shephard Fairey, who were creatively inspired by Mr. Obama. Mr. Droga added that the jury's focus was on the overall campaign, not individual moments. (The award, however, will go to the agency, GMMB, and client David Plouffe, the campaign manager who appeared at Cannes earlier in the week.)

"[The campaign's leaders] were curators as much as creators," Mr. Droga said. "They created the framework and allowed others to contribute."

That framework included a digital focus on tools such as Twitter, Facebook and text-messaging. U.S. juror Rich Silverstein, of Goodby Silverstein & Partners, said, "There will never be a political campaign that doesn't use what they started."

Mr. Droga also tried to make the case that the jury "separated the man from the campaign" and that the award was based on "rational not an emotional considerations." Perhaps that was the case, but the argument was oh-so-slightly undermined by the giddiness displayed by some of the judges who were visibly enthusiastic to have made this call.

Said Steve Mykolyn, chief creative officer of Toronto-based Taxi, "We're going to get another copy of the award and send it to Bush."

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