|Stefano Hatfield is the editorial director of 'Ad Age Global' and 'Creativity.'
Hatchuel, always awkward on the stage, frequently a little clumsy, was on this occasion acting very deliberately. He began the citation for Saatchi & Saatchi London's much-prized "Agency of the Year" award by setting off on a meandering attack on the advertising world's trade press, describing us variously as smiling cobras and crocodiles.
Brazilians went nuts
While I was still trying to work out which I would prefer to be, he then launched into a scathing tirade against the Brazilian press in particular for having the audacity to challenge a rule change he had instigated this year. To coin a phrase: The Brazilians went nuts.
Hatchuel had removed the Cyber Lions category from the tallying up for Agency of the Year, arguing that they were entirely separate from film and print. The Brazilians, typically self-absorbed when it comes to the festival, interpreted this as a deliberate attempt to deny Brazilian agencies the chance to win
|Photo: Teressa Iezzi|
|Festival chairman Roger Hatchuel was not happy.
The rest of us didn't have a clue what was going on. Until then the spat had remained what it still should be, a backroom squabble. But in truth, this was only one of a series of bizarre moments on the night.
First, there was the strange case of the missing brands. For reasons best known to themselves, the organizers declined to give the client or band name with each winning spot, leaving the rest of us to puzzle over the significance of a bronze for Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/ Y&R's "Gourd." But I am sure it sold a lot of Land Rovers.
Then, there were the missing ads. Swatch got the Advertiser of the Year award, which is fine, but unlike for previous winners such as Nike, Levi's, Budweiser and Pepsi, no one present could recall a single Swatch ad, bad or good, and it had never won the Grand Prix. Nonetheless, Swatch CEO Nicolas Hayek told us by phone from Switzerland how happy he was, and that he had a lovely villa in Cap d'Antibes, so that's all right then.
Martin Bowley, the British presenter who in his day job is CEO of Carlton UK Sales, did a decent job of hosting the show, other than occasional "in" Brit jokes with some of the winners with whom he happened to be friends.
'Make more noise'
But both Hatchuel and the admirable Jeff Goodby, who exhorted the subdued crowd to "make more noise," appeared sent to aggravate Bowley. Goodby was an outstanding president, confirming his international reputation for being smart, having great taste and being laid-back.
"Over his dead body" was the Club 18-30 copulating dogs spot going to win the Grand Prix in film, just as the brand had done in print. It still got a gold, with which he was unhappy.
But, in truth, apart from a crass and cloying Disney ad that took silver for Leo Burnett, Chicago, it was an impeccable show. There were fewer golds than even the controversial Frank Lowe year of 1995, but no one was screaming personal abuse at Goodby. Nike's "Tag," directed by the U.K.'s Frank Budgen for Wieden & Kennedy's Portland, Ore., was a hugely popular winner, and deservedly so. The 15 golds were few but outstanding.
Can it be the crowd has really become more polite and lulled by the sun, sea and sex of Cannes week, or is it more likely that Goodby really got a grip on the type of regional bloc-voting that so did in BMW Films.com in the media category? Either way, better winners, more boring show.
And perhaps Hatchuel knew that and was just trying to liven things up a little. But judging by the way the Brazilians jeered and whistled him from the auditorium, if the nation now fails to win the World Cup, he will probably get the blame for that too!
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Stefano Hatfield is editorial director of Creativity and Ad Age Global.