Grand Prix ad winners reflect 'aspirational' direction

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[cannes] The U.K. swept the Grand Prix awards for both TV and print at last week's International Advertising Festival.

U.K. newspaper The Independent and Lowe Howard-Spink, London, were the surprise winners of the top prize for TV and cinema, just days after TBWA Simons Palmer GGT, London, captured the press and poster Grand Prix with a Sony PlayStation ad.

During the week, there was little buzz among festivalgoers about The Independent spot, called "Litany." It features quick cuts of people and rapid-fire orders not to smoke, drink, etc., with the message that their readers have minds of their own.

"Litany" beat out the much-talked-about but controversial spots from Cliff Freeman & Partners, New York--infamous for tattooing the company name on children's foreheads and firing gerbils out of cannons.

In the end, was too violent in a violent year.

Jury President Keith Reinhard, chairman-CEO of DDB Worldwide, New York, said the choice of "Litany" was "an arrow" to the industry.

"The jury felt a special responsibility as the last jury of the 1990s to point the industry in a direction that was perhaps a little more aspirational and reflected qualities we think are important," Mr. Reinhard said.

He described the ad as "beautifully crafted," from the way the film was shot to the copywriting.

"There was a sensitivity on the part of many jurors to the body of violence," he said.


Overall, the U.S. won six TV Gold Lions, including Outpost.

com. Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., picked up two Gold Lions for a series of Nike shoes and apparel spots.

The other U.S. Gold winners were J. Walter Thompson, New York, for Kellogg Co.'s Raisin Bran Crunch spot "Slackers"; Cliff Freeman & Partners for "Don," for Video Rental Store; and DDB, Chicago, for Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser spots "Open Road" and "On the Road Again."

The U.S. also won seven of the 31 TV Silver Lions and nine Bronzes.

The U.K. picked up four Gold Lions, including one for festival favorite Scalextric (a boy's toy made by Hornby Hobbies), a Lowe Howard-Spink campaign.

Separately, DM9 DDB, Sao Paulo, won Agency of the Year for picking up the most Lions overall in the TV, print, cyber and media competitions.

Earlier in the week, U.S. new-media agencies swept the second annual Cyber Lion awards for online advertising, thanks to OgilvyInteractive and IBM Corp. OgilvyInteractive won the Grand Prix and two other Cyber Lions for an IBM campaign.

But the U.S. failed to win any Gold Lions in the print and poster competition, and was completely shut out of the Media Lions, awarded for the first time as media buying and planning started to take a prominent role in the festival.


The Sony PlayStation ad, called "Nipples," narrowly beat out another U.K. ad for the press and poster Grand Prix. "Wedding," part of a Volkswagen Polo campaign by BMP DDB, London, focusing on the car's low price, actually scored higher than "Nipples" but lacked two votes to grasp the Grand Prix.

In an insight into the often-bizarre workings of awards juries, the print jury was split 50-50 between the two ads during a 2 1/2-hour discussion that saw many judges switch their allegiance back and forth.

"The [Polo] ad stopped me cold," said William Ludwig, a U.S. judge and vice chairman-chief creative officer at Campbell-Ewald. "But many judges felt [they should] award a very youthful icon in Europe."

The PlayStation ad, featuring two young people with prominent nipples that are really videogame controls strategically placed under their shirts, eventually won.

Sony won its second Grand Prix in the Media Lions for a videogame campaign by 141 Palaceplus, Auckland, New Zealand.


The most dramatic moment of the week was the disastrous press and poster awards ceremony on Tuesday night. Following that debacle, in which Mr. Reinhard had to ad lib descriptions of the advertising, he described the technical breakdown as "completely inexcusable" and had festival organizers worried that he might walk out.

But Mr. Reinhard simply made sure that a full technical rehearsal was held for the gala TV and cinema ceremony on Saturday night.

Mr. Reinhard also "cleansed" the short list by asking the judges after each category to agree to cut ads that didn't measure up. This exercise kept the judges locked in the Palais des Festival until 12:30 a.m. one night--with no dinner.

"They didn't even have coffee," said Mr. Reinhard, who left that marathon session early to attend the Media Lions dinner.

Contributing: Laura Petrecca

Copyright June 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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