'Mountain' hits Cannes' giddy height

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When the dominating discussion about clients at Cannes finally gave way to a more traditional tussle over potential Grand Prix winners, it was TBWA London's "Mountain" commercial that emerged victorious.

Two other ads almost derailed the ascent of the PlayStation 2 spot to the Cannes summit, and certainly no single commercial set the creatives chattering in the way that "Cog" monopolized last year's conversation. In the end, Bud Light's "Real Men of Genius" from Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide, Chicago, and a sleeper from Canada for Vim cleanser by Zig, Toronto, were the narrow losers.

"In the end what swayed me toward `Mountain' was the extraordinary use of music, and also it was a truly global commercial. The metaphor was so clear," said Linda Kaplan Thaler, CEO-chief creative officer of Publicis Groupe's Kaplan Thaler. "It's very profound, almost art," said Charity Charity , global executive creative director at WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson, London, and a film juror.

`"Mountain' is such a wonderful way of saying how you can strive, and all join in together. It's iconic," said Piyush Pandey, executive chairman-national creative director of WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather, Mumbai, India, and president of both the press and outdoor and the film juries.

Still, there were few films this year that inspired as much impassioned debate as another topic: clients at Cannes.

While legendary director Joe Pytka held court on the Carlton Terrace as he has during countless Cannes, inside Ronald McDonald held court. McDonald's Corp. staged a well-attended press conference, presided over by President-CEO Charlie Bell and Larry Light, exec VP-global chief marketing officer, to preview new spots and crow over McDonald's first global ad campaign, the nine-month-old "I'm lovin' it" effort.

To the naked eye, party-packed Cannes was even more riotous than usual (see story, right). But endless discussion centered around if and how the growing presence of marketers at Cannes is changing the festival, and whether that is good or bad.

keeping the spirit

Marketers are sensitive to the issue. "Our presence should not and hopefully will not change the essence and spirit of Cannes," said A.G. Lafley, Procter & Gamble Co. Chairman-CEO. "There are no client meetings I'm involved in. This is an inappropriate place to have those meetings."

P&G's Chief Marketing Officer Jim Stengel said if creatives and marketing executives "can somehow work together to bring more creativity to the consumer, then all of us are happy. If this changes that ... then we will pull back. "

P&G's creatives sprang to the company's defense. "We have to be sure," said Publicis' David Droga, that Cannes "doesn't become advertising for the sake of advertising. We can't just be talking to ourselves."

This year-for the first time-three marketers, from P&G, Nokia and Hewlett-Packard, served on the media jury. Although their participation was generally applauded, rumors circulated among creatives that clients could be added to other Cannes juries in the future. "Why would we want clients to kill our advertising twice?" said Jim Ferguson, CEO, Interpublic Group of Cos.' TM Advertising, Dallas.

Festival Chairman Roger Hatchuel has been adamant that clients will only be invited onto the media Lions jury. In media "a number of advertisers are more advanced, prepared to take risks, and be more creative than their agencies," he said. "There will be no advertisers on the film, press, outdoor, direct or cyber [juries]."

Some agency executives expressed concern about clients being too heavily scheduled, and not appreciating the natural flow of a festival that has always thrived on informal conversations and spontaneity.

For the U.S., it was a terrible year. In the film competition, the U.S. won only three Golds ("Real Men of Genius"; Toyota Motor Sales' "Tacoma" from Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi, Torrance, Calif.; and a Federal Express campaign from Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide, New York) and no press and outdoor Golds. The U.S. won two Silvers and seven Bronzes in the press and poster category. The U.S. won just 17 of 117 Lions handed out, and only one of 15 media Lions. The best American performance was in the cyber category -22 of 102 Lions-and direct, with six of 22 awards. In film, the U.S. brought in four Silver Lions and 13 Bronzes.

The U.S.'s single media Lion was for an MSN campaign by Interpublic's Universal-McCann, San Francisco, but nine of the 15 media Lions went to U.S.-based multinational marketers, including FedEx, Apple Computers, Nike and PepsiCo.'s Frito-Lay.

Media Lions for P&G

The media jury gave P&G and Starcom MediaVest Group an unprecedented three of 15 media Lions awarded, for Bonux detergent in Lebanon, Vidal Sassoon shampoo in Japan and Pampers in Mexico. The Grand Prix went to Chilean beer Cristal and Omnicom's OMD, Santiago, for morphing Cristal beer seamlessly into famous scenes in televised movies.

The print and outdoor jury awarded Volkswagen, a perennial festival favorite, the print Grand Prix for "Cops," a DDB Worldwide, London, ad showing heavily armed police staked out behind a VW Polo with a loudspeaker on the top and the Polo tagline "Small but tough." The Grand Prix for outdoor went to WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for "Missile car," an ad for local TV station CH-9 in which missiles are fired from the sky at a truck bearing the station's logo (See the press and poster winners, P. 58)

Virgin Atlantic and Australian agency Host won the Grand Prix in the Lions direct contest, with a humorous direct campaign built around a lonely, looking-for-love dude named Warren.

In the cyber competition, the Grand Prix for Web sites went to Japan's NEC Ecotonoha Project, and Nike; Barcelona digital agency DoubleYou won the Grand Prix for an interactive campaign.

No Titanium Lion was awarded this year.

contributing: jack neff

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