Jury Scurries, U.S. Tanks in Press & Poster

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After the Press & Poster jury concluded its deliberations Monday night here at the International Advertising Festival in Cannes, at last finalizing its Grand Prix decisions, the 22 member panel burst into applause. Suddenly, according to jury president Dan Wieden, the lights in the room went out. "We knew it was a sign, but we didn't know of what," Wieden says. "It turned out to be a sign that we had to get back to work."

Following an investigation into the would-be press Grand Prix winner -- an ad for a bookstore called Ferin from Leo Burnett/Lisbon -- festival officials determined that the ad did not meet the eligibility requirements in the corporate image category because it had not run in paid media. The copy heavy campaign features texts from famous books, and then rhetorically asks the reader how much more interesting the books must be, if they're already engrossed in the ad. According to Miguel Angel Furones, chief creative officer of Leo Burnett Worldwide, the ads ran in newspapers, in outdoor venues and as point of sale advertising in Portugal, but all the media for the campaign was donated. Furones agreed with the decision to disqualify the ad -- since competition guidelines require that ads run in paid media -- but said its entry in the Festival was a simple oversight and an "honest" mistake.

In any case, a press conference earlier today to announce the Press & Poster winners was delayed for almost an hour as the jury returned to pick another Grand Prix.

Originally, the Ferin ad had been picked as the print Grand Prix, with the outdoor Grand Prix going to TBWA/Paris for an advertisement for Sony PlayStation, "Rebirth," in which a full grown man is seen emerging from the womb of a svelt model. This morning, however, the jury decided to award the PlayStation ad -- which had been entered as both print and outdoor -- the print Grand Prix, and present the outdoor Grand Prix to a campaign for No Bugs Insect Spray from Grey Worldwide, Auckland, New Zealand, which depicts what a can of the stuff looks like from the point of view of various insects.

But delayed or not, the final awards -- presented here Tuesday night at the Palais des Festivals -- did not bring good news for American agencies. U.S. shops won just three Lions in Press & Poster, not one of them Gold. India did better, winning two Golds and three Lions in all. The American winners included a Silver Lion for a business-to-business campaign for Rolling Stone from BBH/New York, a Bronze Lion for the print version of the popular VW television commercial "Squares" from Arnold Worldwide, and a Bronze in outdoor for Crispin Porter + Bogusky's MINI installation "Ride." Last year, the U.S. won a world-beating 15 Lions.

This year, on the other hand, belonged to Brazil, which landed 16 trophies, followed by Spain with 11, France and South Africa with 10 each, Germany with nine, and the United Kingdom with eight. Although the U.K.'s performance was also below average, England did lead the world with five Gold Lions.

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