P&G Wins Media Grand Prix, Oprah/Pontiac Stunt Wins Sole U.S. Lion

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"And you win a Lion, and ..."
Procter & Gamble narrowly beat out a small museum in Austria for the Media Lions’ Grand Prix as the first two Grand Prix at this year’s Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival were handed out this evening at the opening awards show for the media and direct marketing contests.

In a broader trend, judges noted the increasing number of winning entries that feature embedded content, as entertainment and advertising converge in the growing industry dubbed Madison & Vine. Ironically the U.S., the leader in developing branded content, rarely does well in the Media Lions contest, repeating last year’s poor performance by winning only one of 20 Media Lions. This year’s sole U.S. Media Lion was awarded for the giveaway of more than 200 Pontiac G6 cars to Oprah’s studio audience, engineered by GM Planworks, Detroit.

P&G’s Grand Prix came from the launch of Biomat laundry detergent in Israel and two insights by WPP Group’s Tel Aviv-based MediaCom: 15% of the population are conservative Jews who don’t watch TV, and everyone loves a mitzvah, or good deed. Armed with those insights, MediaCom planned a newspaper, magazine and outdoor campaign encouraging people to donate old clothes, which were washed in Biomat in mobile washing machines taken around local communities on the back of trucks.

“It explored the concept of what is media,” said Mark Stewart, jury president and managing director of OMD Eastern Region, New York. He noted that Biomat grabbed a 40% market share in Israel.

Media Lions judges laughed uproariously when a journalist asked at a press conference if the jury’s decision had been an easy one. “It was a great and spirited debate,” Mr. Stewart said. After eliminating a Nike Canada campaign by Cossette Media that was the third contender for the Grand Prix, the jury was deadlocked between Procter and a campaign for the Liechtenstein Museum by Wien Nord Pilz, Vienna. In the musem’s “Fresco” campaign, beautiful murals were displayed in unlikely places from the ceiling of an airport to umbrellas, to demonstrate in public places the experience people have in a museum.

The Grand Prix and many other winners were very low-ech concepts in an increasingly digital age, but a significant number had the kind of embedded content, like the Oprah car giveaway, that will survive even when consumers edit out ads with personal video recorders like TiVo. One winner, 20th Century Fox, used the Australian version of Big Brother to premiere the disaster movie The Day After Tomorrow. Big Brother contestants were stunned to awake one morning to find their house covered in snow. The artificial snow in hot Australia, written into the script to promote the movie, was a lead-in to the contestants getting to watch the movie’s premiere during the program.

In another winning entry, during TV programs in Colombia, the color suddenly drained out of the televised images, and viewers were asked, “Do you want to get color back in your life?” The answer, according to OMD Colombia, Bogota, was to use Clorox to wash clothes. The program resumed with the color restored. Such interference with programming, judges conceded, was unlikely to be acceptable in countries like the U.S. Judges said that they did throw out some of the more egregious examples of blurring advertising and content.

Japan won four Media Lions, more than any other country. A favorite from Japan was “Frosty Window” for Knorr soup in which stickers were put on Japanese train windows to look like someone’s breath hitting glass in cold weather. Messages like “Are you cold?” appeared to have been traced on the window and were meant to put commuters in the mood for soup.

The total number of entries in the media contest rose to 1,076 from 875 last year. As media entries grow, media agencies are even entering the party scene dominated by the creative agencies. This evening, OMD kicked off the Media Lions celebration by throwing a pre-show cocktail party at the Majestic hotel, hosted by Mark Stewart, president of this year’s media jury and managing director of OMD Eastern Region. With two Media Lions from Colombia and one from Poland, OMD picked up more trophies this year than any other media agency.

In one conspicuous absence, the festival abandoned last year’s controversial experiment of putting marketers on the media jury. Last year, there were three, from Procter, Ikea and Hewlett Packard. “On balance we feel it’s a better decision to continue with media companies on the jury,” said festival CEO Terry Savage. “It was also perceived as a bias that Cannes doesn’t need.” -Laurel Wentz

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