San Francisco agency Pereira & O'Dell has picked up two more Grands Prix on the last day of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, winning the top prize in both branded content and the film categories. Earlier this week it also took the big Lion in the cyber category. It's the surprise hit of this year's festival, while McCann Melbourne's superhit "Dumb Ways to Die," was its favorite. The film added to its collection of Grand Prix when it picked up the other top film honor. The last time the film jury awarded double Grands Prix was in 2008, when Cadbury's "Gorilla," from Fallon London and Xbox 360/Halo 3's "Enemy Weapon," from the "Believe" campaign via T.A.G. San Francisco/McCann, shared the honor.
What it is
"Dumb Ways to Die" is the popular animated film by McCann Melbourne for Metro Trains that showed cute characters shuffling off this mortal coil in spectacularly stupid ways. It featured animation from John Frost and a catchy track written by agency executive creative director John Mescall, performed by the fictitious band "Tangerine Kitty" that hit the top 10 rankings on iTunes in various countries. The effort was a global viral sensation and a festival darling, picking up a total of five Grands Prix this year. The others were in PR, direct, radio and integrated.
Intel/Toshiba's "Beauty Inside" was the surprise hit of the festival. Earlier this week it was named one of the cyber Grand Prix winners. It also recently won a Daytime Emmy in outstanding programming-new approaches. The social film was the second iteration of a campaign launched in 2011. "Beauty Inside" is a film about a man named Alex who woke up everyday in a different body. Topher Grace played the lead role, as did an extended cast of consumers who auditioned to play Alex via social media. The work was directed by Drake Doremus ("Like Crazy") and produced by B-Reel.
Behind the branded-content and entertainment Lions jury
The branded-content jury, which saw 968 entries this year, was chaired by Scott Donaton, the president-CEO of Ensemble. There were 17 people on the jury, making it one of the largest at the festival. That might be because the content being judged is longer, too: One of the Gold Lions was awarded to "The Movie Out There," a film for Canadian beer brand Kokanee, which ran for a whopping 90 minutes.
"Having participated in the first-ever branded content jury last year, it was fantastic to see how the quality of work went up another level," said Mr. Donaton.
Why it won
Mr. Donaton said that when the judges gathered to discuss the shortlist and came across the Intel/Toshiba work, they "didn't talk about anything else for the next hour." He added that while the film was beautifully shot, it also was "born out of a beautiful brand trust that it's the inside that counts," just like Intel, powering the the Toshiba computer, is what makes the difference.
The work, which had 70 million views and was aired in six weekly episodes, was also "social at its core," said Mr. Donaton. The decision was unanimous.
"Beauty Inside" is the second part of a social film campaign by Intel/Toshiba and Pereira & O'Dell -- in 2011 they launched "Inside," about a kidnapped woman played by Emmy Rossum who needed the audience to help her escape, but it only shortlisted in Cannes. When asked if the jury considered this, juror Jae Goodman, chief creative officer and co-head of CAA Marketing said that "just because they've done the format before doesn't mean it's not great work." At the end of the day, judges were looking at work "at its best," he said.
Close, but no cigar
The Kokanee movie was the other possible contender for the top prize, said Mr. Donaton. After the jury solidified the shortlist, they decided on their top choices, and those, along with the eventual Grand Prix winner, became the centerpiece of the discussion. "We loved [Kokanee], and we loved the case film for it," he said. "However, we felt the quality of content fell a little short."
Mr. Goodman, whose work for Chipotle won the inaugural Grand Prix in this category last year, said that if the jury were to pick a third favorite, it would be "Screen-Age Love Story," for Filipino telecom company PLDT. The Philippines won its first Grand Prix earlier this week, in the mobile category.
Hot topic at press conference
"Stratos," Red Bull's space jump, was widely considered a favorite in this and other categories before the Lions Festival began. However, the energy-drink company didn't enter the work it into any of the categories. When asked by members of the media whether its entry would have made a difference in the results, Mr. Donaton said "we didn't judge it and we can't discuss it," adding that the jury was "really proud of the work" it saw this week.
Total number of Lions
Fifty-nine were awarded; 17 were Gold Lions. Among the Gold Lion winners were IBM's "A Boy and His Atom" movie, created by Ogilvy, New York, using real atoms, Dove's "Real Beauty Sketches" by Ogilvy Brazil, which won the titanium Grand Prix this year, and festival favorite "Dumb Ways to Die," by McCann Melbourne.
Behind the Films Lion Jury
John Hegarty, founder/creative of global agency BBH, presided over the 22-person jury, from 20 countries. The U.S. had the most representation with three jurors, while the other countries had one each. The jury sifted through 3,125 entries, a significant drop from last year's 3,475. Philip Thomas, the Festival CEO, noted at the start of the conference that the film jury does have the option to award up to two Grands Prix, one in the Product/Service category, the other in "Other Film Content." Mr. Hegarty also added that even before going into the judging, the jury hoped it would be able to award two prizes. "There are many differences. between creating for TV and film as opposed to longform internet work and emerging media. The global advertising expenditure is about 500 billon dollars, and 200 billion of that goes on television. To not award that for some app that five people might see, would seem to be somewhat stupid."
Why the campaigns won
As expressed by earlier juries, the Metro film achieved that rare industry feat of becoming part of the popular culture. "One of the challenges of doing advertising, is how to get your work to go beyond advertising," said Mr. Hegarty. 'Dumb Ways to Die' has obviously done that." Moreover, the film, which is about three-minutes long, reflected a smart strategy. "Instead of relying on the conventional 30-second spot, they created something that truly captures the audience's imagination, and they, in turn, pass it on. It's a very cost-effective way of getting to 70 million people."
As for "Beauty Inside," the film was the perfect combination of great storytelling and brand message. It's "a great piece of content that works at the very heart of their brand," said Mr. Hegarty. "It's a clever way of linking the brand to the story, and it's not just about creating entertainment, it's about promoting a brand." Australian juror Clemenger BBDOMelbourne ECD Ant Keogh added, "It's very difficult to get [branding and entertainment] to work together. This is an example of brands baked in, but you don't feel you've been sold to. It's as good as an HBO show or a movie, yet Intel is at the core of it. I urge you all to watch it."
Close or no cigar?
Mr. Hegarty noted that there was debate about other films when considering the Grand Prix winners, but would not reveal any specific pieces of work discussed for the prize.
Trend or no trend?
When the jury was asked about whether the back-to-back award of the Film Grand Prix to socially-conscious, animated films reflected a trend (last year's went to Chipotle's "Back the the Start"), they said it was just coincidence. "That it was similar to Chipotle in tone and technique, if anything, would have worked against it," said Mr. Keogh. "Sometimes similarities happen, but you can't deny the brilliance of the work and the results," said Mr. Hegarty.
Total Lions awarded
The jury awarded a total of 94 Lions, including 11 Golds. Three went to the U.S., to Southern Comfort's "Beach" spot from the "Whatever's Comfortable" campaign, created out of Wieden & Kennedy, New York, the second iteration of Grey New York's "Cable Effects" campaign, which also won Gold last year and BBH New York's Axe "Susan Glenn," in which a guy reflects on on how much braver he would have been approaching his high school crush, had he known the man he would become-- Kiefer Sutherland. Three also went to the U.K., for Channel 4's "Meet the Superhumans," out of the broadcaster's in-house agency 4creative, which also earned the Film Craft Grand Prix, Ikea's "Playin' With My Friends," out of Mother London and Dove's "Camera Shy" out of Ogilvy London.
Australia, which has had a record number of wins this year, took two, for "Dumb Ways" and for Carlton Draught's "Beer Chase," out of Clemenger BBDO Melbourne. Germany, Brazil and France each earned single Golds: BBDO Berlin took one for Smart Car's "Camera Shy," Ogilvy Brazil earned Gold for Dove's "Real Beauty Sketches," which also won the Titanium Grand Prix and CLM BBDO won for ALB's interactive music video, "Golden Chains."
What the jury didn't like
Today, the film category is no longer about the 30- or 60-second spot. The jury did see a growth in submissions of longer form work. But Canadian juror Judy John, CEO/CCO of Leo Burnett Canada, cautioned: "Because you can, doesn't mean you should go an hour and a half or 40 minutes. There's an art to editing and creating ideas. You still have to be interesting."
Looking to the future
Mr Hegary closed the conference with a call to action to creatives to become more entrepreneurial and independent. "I've said it's the best time to be in the business. When I started, being young was a disadvantage, whereas the reverse is the case today. I'm sure people look at me walking into a meeting wondering what generation I'm from, whereas if someome walks in with a slightly smelly t-shirt and a bag across their shoulder, the client thinks you know more than anybody else. Creative people need to take more control. I started my own agency because I wanted to do a certain kind of work. I want to see more of that."
In other awards, Grand Prix for good is for "Ant Rally" for WWF from BBDO Germany. Indie agency of the year is Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., and WPP is holding company of the year. In Palm D'Or, Here is Palme d'Or, MJZ took first; Biscuit Works took second and O Positive was third.