In a very meta move, the 2012 Cannes International Advertising Festival Film Craft Jury bestowed the top honor on a spot with a storyline about, well, making films -- "Bear" for Canal Plus out of BETC Euro RSCG, Paris. The spot earned the Grand Prix in the category of production value and also won three Gold Lions and a Silver Lion. It bested a number of other top contenders, including the much-talked-about "Three Little Pigs," from BBH, London, for "The Guardian," a food extravaganza for Lurpak, out of Wieden & Kennedy, London, and an emotional spot focusing on moms, for P&G, out of Wieden's Portland office.
WHAT IT IS: The spot out of BETC Euro RSCG and directed by MJZ's Matthias Van Heijningen, tells the tale of a peculiarly flat ursine auteur named Paul Bearman, who boasts a Scorsese-like passion for his craft. It turns out, in a previous life, all he did was watch movies on the tube because there's not much more you can do -- as a bear rug.
WHY IT WON: Yes, the spot is about filmmaking, but that 's not what pushed it to the top. The jurors noted that of all the other awardees, this was the only piece of work that easily withstood multiple viewings and managed to surprise them every time. "We do have many subcategories, and we believe the Grand Prix ties in all these different aspects of craft very, very elegantly," said Jury President Espen Horn, executive producer at Motion Blur, Norway. "It's a commercial we saw 10, 15, perhaps 20 times during the session, and we still find it entertaining, which is an incredible achievement because you do get bored watching a commercial that many times." Juror Michael Sagol, executive producer/managing partner at production company Caviar in Los Angeles, noted that even after his "nth" viewing, he was still discovering details that awed him.
THE JURY: Mr. Horn presided over eight others, from seven countries, one each from India, Japan, Brazil, Spain, the U.K., Germany, and two from the U.S.
CONTROVERSY OR CLEAR WINNER? Every Gold was looked at for the top prize, but the judges easily settled on the Canal+ spot. "It's a commercial the whole jury felt we couldn't do any differently," said Mr. Horn. When asked about The Guardian's "Three Little Pigs" spot, which running up to the festival had been discussed industry-wide as a contender for top film prizes, "Expectation is the mother of all fuck-ups," said Mr. Horn. "When we all flew down to Cannes we had [already] seen The Guardian. It's an absolutely extraordinary piece of work. It's a very good commercial, but, as [juror] Diane Jackson said, it doesn't sustain as 'Bear.' It doesn't live with you for that long a time. It's among the pieces that should be in discussion for the Grand Prix, but 'Bear' sticks with you."
WHAT ELSE DID WELL: As expected, The Guardian's "Three Little Pigs" directed by Ringan Ledwidge of Rattling Stick, was one of the top Grand Prix contenders, and earned two Gold and four Silver Craft Lions. Also in contention were Gold winners Lurpak's "Rainbow" , a magnificent twist on tabletop featuring a hilarious V.O. and singing from Rutger Hauer and directed by Blink's Dougal Wilson, and P&G's Olympics tear-jerker featuring moms around the world and directed by Anonymous Content's Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who also shot last year's Film Grand Prix Winner, Nike 's "Write the Future."
Ms. Jackson, the EVP/Director of Integrated Production at DDB Chicago, noted all the top work were pieces that potentially could go "horribly wrong," but went in the opposite direction: anthropomorphized animals, a potentially schmaltzy spot about moms and a tabletop piece about butter.
TOTAL NUMBER OF LIONS AWARDED: One Grand Prix, ten Gold, 16 Silver, 31 Bronze.
WHAT THEY DIDN'T LIKE, AND LOOKING AHEAD TO NEXT YEAR: Not surprisingly, as has been the case with other categories, the amount of submissions was difficult to tackle, with the jury pulling 14-hour days, said Ms. Jackson. This year, the jurors sifted through 1,721 submissions, a big jump from last year's 1,322. "It's been brutal," she said. "I think it's a universal discussion between the jurors. The judging process is most valuable when there's discussion, as opposed to hitting buttons because then it becomes an aggregate of numbers without insight and discussion. We spent two days just looking at work. When you're looking at that volume of work, stuff gets missed, but luckily we did go back a lot. It's going to be interesting moving forward as this festival expands how they'll manage the judging process."