Procter & Gamble roared into Cannes this year, its Lion count blasting past its previous high mark and that of last year's Advertiser of the Year, Unilever, which was tracking well behind its 2010 total at press time.
"We've been coming here for nine years," said a relaxed-looking Marc Pritchard, P&G's global marketing and brand building officer, sitting at a quiet table at the opulent Majestic Barriere. He said he was particularly pleased that the awards were coming from a range of work, from print to PR, and that P&G topped the Effie's Effectiveness Index, unveiled at Cannes Thursday night.
"So far we have 23 Lions, one of which is a Grand Prix, and we still have one more left with 20 on the shortlist," he said on Friday, noting that 17 Lions was P&G's previous best. He was encouraged that Old Spice continues to win Lions (it took home a cyber Grand Prix, a film Silver Lion, a Gold direct Lion and a Gold integrated Lion) and praised Gillette's "Shave India" campaign, which won a Lion for the third year. Febreze's "Breathe Happy" campaign also won a Silver in film.
P&G was Cannes' Advertiser of the Year in 2008, but though it might seem to deserve it next year, the nod is given well in advance of each festival and is based on a marketer's track record rather than who won the most Lions. Only Nike has won the honor twice since it was introduced in 1992, and that was a decade apart, in 1994 and 2003.
The new creative-effectiveness category scored P&G two of the five Lions awarded, for Old Spice's "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" and a Gillette campaign by BBDO India.
Unilever, meanwhile, was turning in a disappointing performance. By Friday it had won two Lions. Though it was shortlisted for five film, one film craft and one creative effectiveness Lion, it came home with Lions only in the film category and a film craft categories, both for an Axe spot from Argentina by Lowe agency Ponce, Buenos Aires.
Chief Marketing Officer Keith Weed, in Cannes Friday to do an onstage Q&A with his CEO, Paul Polman, and WPP chief Martin Sorrell, said much of the work entered built off of established campaigns, which had done well at Cannes in years past. "I'm a great believer that we tire of our ads faster than our consumers," he said. This year's performance serves as "grit for the oyster."