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There was some disappointment at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes Saturday night, as juries in two of the five categories set to be awarded decided not to award the top prize, a Grand Prix.
Jury members for the film craft category recognizing technique in film and for the branded content and entertainment category decided that while the work was good, nothing was exceptional enough to be given the top prize.
There is some precedent for withholding the Grand Prix. In 1995, when Cannes only had two categories -- film and press/poster -- juries refused to award a Grand Prix in either category, and didn't even announce any Gold Lions in the press/poster competition. In 1980, jury president Barry Day awarded no Film Grand Prix either. The year after, entries and attendance both suffered. However, in a press conference Saturday, Cannes Lions chairman Terry Savage said he did not believe this year's decision will affect entries, saying that the World Cup had more of an effect on attendance this year.
Last week there was no Grand Prix in the pharmaceutical category at the first Health Lions. That was less shocking that Saturday's decision because the Health Lions are new, leaving judges to determine where to set the bar, and because pharma is an industry with myriad regulatory hurdles for creative work to navigate.
"Juries use the Grand Prix to not only honor the absolute best work in the world, but to send a message to the industry about the category itself," said John Patroulis, chief creative officer at BBH New York, in an email. "So work that wins is usually something that has helped move the category forward in some way, or reestablished a fundamental that had started to slip in recent years. So not awarding a Grand Prix sends an equally powerful message -- that there's been great work, but nothing that has fundamentally moved the category forward."
Behind the Film Craft Jury
Chaired by Smuggler's Brian Carmody, the Film Craft jury awarded 16 Gold Lions. That was "far more than we thought we ever would," Mr. Carmody said. "There are so many things that are fantastic," he added. "It's very hard to be number one, and we had a number of those number ones."
The decision not to award a Grand Prix was unanimous, although Mr. Carmody said he initially felt a little "ill" over the outcome. He became "100% confident" later, he said.
Juror Martin Loraine, deputy exec creative director at AMV BBDO, said that the jury didn't want to feel like it had to award a Grand Prix. "There was no outstanding one piece of work that shone through."
Work that received Gold Lions included Volvo Trucks' "The Epic Split," P&G's "Pick Them Back Up" and Chipotle's "Scarecrow." "Scarecrow" and "Split" both won top honors in the Cyber category earlier in the week.
Behind the Branded Content & Entertainment Jury
Chaired by Doug Scott of OgilvyEntertainment, the branded content jury awarded 11 Gold Lions. Nine of them were eligible for the Grand Prix. The other two were for non-profits and thus not eligible for the top prize. "Unfortunately, with all the the great work that did come, the jury was unable this year to award a Grand Prix," said Mr. Scott. "We felt after looking through the Golds that qualified that there was no one piece that was exception."
This is only the third year the branded content category has existed. Asked whether this might send a discouraging message for entrants, Mr. Scott said he did not think so. "I just don't think it has the level of great work this year," he said. "I do believe this industry and the practice of branded content is on the rise."
Work that received Gold Lions included Samsung's "Oscar Selfie," Chipotle's "The Scarecrow," and "Sweetie," for Terres des Hommes Netherlands, which used a computer-generated child to identify pedophiles in online sting operations.