DDB South Africa Takes Press Grand Prix

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CANNES -- DDB South Africa swept up the Grand Prix in the press category at the Cannes International Advertising Festival today for a cheeky campaign for Energizer batteries that jury president Craig Davis declared a powerful piece of work that "jumped off the page."

The concept: Parents can rely on Energizer's long-lasting lithium batteries to ensure that their children's toys never die, and to prevent the naughtiness that ensues when kids are left to their own devices. The ads depict children whose battery-powered gadgets have conked out up to all sorts of no good, like hocking loogies on passersby, painting the family dog red and duct-taping each other to a merry-go-round.

Looking for strong responses
"The kind of work that we were looking for here was the kind of work that provoked very strong responses from people -- made them laugh, made them cry, made them lean in," said Mr. Davis. He said he asked the jury to look for executions "that jumped off the page and pulled people in."

There was "much animated discussion on the way through to arrive at these results" he said, but the Grand Prix was "a unanimous decision."

Meanwhile, JWT, India continued to have a strong showing at the festival, as Leo Burnett India snared a Gold Lion for a series of ads for Luxor Writing Instruments. It, along with a campaign for Olympus binoculars by JWT Sydney that also picked up a Gold, were the two that emerged as runners-up for the Grand Prix, said Mr. Davis, who is chief creative officer worldwide for JWT.

The print category saw nearly 7,500 submissions, and the jury doled out 20 more trophies than it did last year for a total of 93 Press Lions: one Grand Prix, nine Gold, 29 Silver and 54 Bronze Lions.

Banking, finance and investments, and fast-food and restaurants were "particularly weak" in the category, Mr. Davis noted, as were business-to-business and, ironically, media and advertising.

U.S. and U.K. feeling ignored
And in what seems to be a recurring theme during the festival, the U.S. and the U.K. again came up short in the judging. (But the U.S. would redeem itself in Cyber Lions.)

At last year's Cannes festival, Saatchi & Saatchi, New York, won the Grand Prix for its work for P&G's Ultra Tide Stain Remover, but this year the U.S. picked up only three Bronze Lions, while the U.K. was absent from the awards altogether.

This was not due to a shortage of entries into the category: The U.S. submitted 615 press entries, while the U.K. submitted 293 press entries. Last year, the U.S. and U.K. each picked up seven press Lions.

Still, Mr. Davis insisted that any awards received in Cannes are an extraordinary achievement, and told reporters at a press conference today he was irked by questions about why certain locales didn't perform well as others during this year's festival. "To make the shortlist at this festival is a considerable achievement. ... To get elevated off the shortlist to bronze or silver or gold is extraordinary. ... Careers are made, pay rises are given."
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