Fresh fast-food brand Chipotle and CAA Marketing added another Grand Prix to their collection of industry honors at the 2012 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity , for the animated film "Back to the Start." Tonight the brand also nabbed the first Grand Prix in the newly launched branded content and entertainment category.
WHAT IT IS: The animated piece was directed by Johnny Kelly of Nexus and features a Willy Nelson cover of Coldplay's "The Scientist." It tells the story of an industrial farmer who returns to his sustainable, family-farming roots after he realizes the destructiveness of his practices. The film has already taken top honors at other industry shows, including Best of Show at the AICP, the One Show Entertainment and the Andys -- as well as Ad Age 's own Viral Video Awards. At the end of the film, viewers are invited to buy the Nelson track, the proceeds of which go to Chipotle's Cultivate Foundation, dedicated to supporting family farming, sustainable agriculture and culinary education.
WHY IT WON: The jury had high respect for the film on a number of levels. Juror Geoff Edwards, partner and exec creative director at San Francisco-based Dojo, said he looked for something that could contribute to the legacy of former Grand Prix winners. "If you think about the past 10 years and the things that have been iconic, we were looking for something that could sit right up there, rightfully so, and that was this piece," he said. "Work can't just to be great to be a Grand Prix, it has to be exceptional. So it's the core idea meets great art direction [meets] great direction -- there's a single camera move from left to right, Willie Nelson's track, a remake of a beautiful Coldplay track that became its own piece. All that lined up, and at the very end ... it left you with a gorgeous, sustainable message, and we felt very, very good about it."
Indeed, the message of sustainability demonstrated a commitment from the brand that the jurors themselves wanted to take on. "In our job we have big power, the power to change people's behaviors and even influence the world for good," said jury member Fernando Bellotti, regional chief creative officer-president at Leo Burnett, Argentina. "One of the things I like about this Grand Prix is that it gives something back to the consumer. Advertising is usually very ephemeral, so if we can send the message, sponsored by a brand, that makes you think about having a better world, it becomes timeless. It represents what we're here for," he said. That thinking is reminiscent of the 2005 Grand Prix Film winner, Honda's "Grrr," another animated piece that supported a message of sustainability.
THE JURY: Jury President Tham Khai Meng, worldwide chief creative officer and president at Ogilvy & Mather, presided over 22 jurors, from 20 countries. The U.S. had the most jury representation, with three -- Mr. Edwards; Michael Canning, an Australian now exec creative director-exec VP at Leo Burnett, New York; and Robert Wong, exec creative director at Google Creative Lab.
CONTROVERSY OR CLEAR WINNER: Among the jury, Chipotle was the clear winner. According to juror Mick Mahoney, exec creative director at EuroRSCG in the U.K., "By the time it came to judging the Grand Prix there were three or four possibilities that we discussed. But when it actually came to the final voting for the Grand Prix, it wasn't even close. Surprising, really, because I think the ones we were discussing as options were incredibly strong bits of work. It was probably the only film that left everybody silent every time we played it. The commitment from the rest of the jury to that film was really strong. It was so clearly the one everybody loved." The other contenders, he said, were "Three Little Pigs" from the Guardian, out of BBH, London, Canal Plus "Bear," out of EuroRSCG, Paris, which was awarded the film craft Grand Prix, and Grey , New York's DirecTV campaign that earlier in the week President Clinton cited as his favorite.
Said juror Andrea Stillacci, president and founder of Herezie France, "Of course the 'Three Little Pigs' was incredibly 'today,' it represents the power people have in communication today, brought to life in an incredible way, and Canal Plus is a stunning piece of film, very well-directed with a very good idea, so they were strong contenders on the table. ... But on Chipotle, we found this incredible simplicity, a dichotomy of something that 's very quiet, but speaks loudly, it's minimalistic yet 'maximalistic,' and it sells fast food. Yet it grabs the heart."
TOTAL NUMBER OF LIONS AWARDED: One Grand Prix, 11 Gold Lions, 18 Silver, 39 Bronze.
WHO ELSE DID WELL: Outside of the other Grand Prix contenders, other Gold winners included a campaign for Coordown Onlus' World Down Syndrome Day, which took familiar spots from advertisers like Toyota, Pampers and Illy, and replaced characters with actors with Down syndrome; Del Campo Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi's hilarious series of spots for BGH Air Conditioners that illustrated the threat of not having AC, such as seeing your dad in his briefs; and Projector Inc.'s moving online film, Intel's "Museum of Me," which turns your own Facebook content into an exhibition of your own life.
LOOKING TO NEXT YEAR: Mr. Canning said, "Cannes is not just about looking back at best of the year. Beyond that , it's really about looking forward, and rewarding the pieces that push the benchmark of creative work. Chipotle, the work from Italy [by Coordown], they felt fresh and felt like they really transcended the typical construct for a spot ... As a jury we had great discussions about what's going to push the work in the coming year." Although the jury wasn't definitive that all future Grand Prix should attempt to change the world, it seemed passionate about advertising's potential to do so.