[cannes, france] After years as a Gold Lion winning bridesmaid, the team of Nike and Wieden & Kennedy finally won the Grand Prix for Film at the 49th International Advertising Festival for the celebrated urban "Tag" commercial.
Nike and Wieden, Portland, Ore., also bagged a Gold Lion for "Shade Running," but the top spot for Film went to "Tag," a beautifully directed TV commercial with perfect timing in which early morning commuters indulge in a giant city-center game of tag. It prevailed after a close contest with "Champagne" for Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox from Bcom3 Group-backed Bartle Bogle Hegarty, London.
"It was a weird year," said Jeff Goodby, president of both the Press & Poster and Film juries and co-chairman of Omnicom Group's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco. "There was less work that was good, but the best was great. About five things could have won the Grand Prix and I'd have been happy."
This is the third year in a row that the U.S. collected the Grand Prix for Film. Cliff Freeman & Partners won last year for Fox Sports; Omnicom's DDB, Chicago, won in 2000 for Budweiser. Nike won the Grand Prix in 1998 with a campaign from Goodby Silverstein.
This year, there were just 15 Gold Lions for film, with 28 silvers and 41 bronzes. The U.S. won four golds: In addition to Wieden's "Shade Running," Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi, Torrance, Calif., picked up a lion for "Dog" for Toyota Motor Corp.'s Celica, as did Omnicom's TBWA/Chiat/Day, San Francisco, for Fox Sports' "Beware things made in October." Maxxcom-backed Crispin Porter & Bogusky's "Focus on the negative" ads received a Gold Lion for the Florida Dept. of Health campaign.
The Brits struck gold in Film with Reebok's "Sofa" and beer maker Stella Artois' "Doctor" from Interpublic Group of Cos.' Lowe, London; "Cartoon" for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and for Club 18-30 Holidays' "Doggie Style," both by Saatchi, London; and a double gold for Xbox's "Champagne" and Levi Strauss & Co.'s "Odyssey," both from Bartle Bogle.
"Excruciating" and "tortuous" were the words most used to describe this year's judging, from the Media jury's decision to shut out BMW North America's BMWFilms to the Cyber jury's equally agonized late-night vote to give BMW a Grand Prix, to the Film judging with its multiple favorites.
BMWFilms in its own unique way dominated the festival. The work, from Publicis' Fallon Worldwide, defied easy categorization, leaving each jury to grapple with how to treat a breakthrough campaign combining Web site, electrifying 10-minute films and trailers in ways no one had seen before.
Early in the week, the Media jury ruled that BMWFilms was essentially creative work, not a media strategy, and wouldn't grant it a Lion. The Cyber jury thought differently.
"BMWFilms is probably the most innovative and important marketing program in the last year," said George Gallate, president of the Cyber jury and CEO of Havas' Euro RSCG Interaction. "This work has made people stop and pause and reconsider what they're doing." Even so, the Cyber jury was deadlocked until the judges opted to award two Grand Prix awards-BMWFilms' "The Hire" and Framfab, Copenhagen, for Nike Europe.
Even the Film jury jumped into the BMWFilms imbroglio. TV and cinema entries are limited to three minutes, so the films themselves weren't eligible, but the judges shortlisted trailers for two of the BMW films.
The confusion only helped underscore the contention of Mr. Goodby, president of the Press & Poster and Film juries, that advertising has to change. "Advertising's going to have to be a lot faster and a lot more entertaining because people will have ways to keep it out of their lives," he said. "I think there will be advertising for advertising, like the Nike commercials will be on at 5 o'clock. Clients aren't thinking that way yet. They will."
With about 9% fewer entries, fewer delegates and a recession, Cannes was a little more like the real world than usual this year, despite the sun and parties and late nights. One economic indicator: empty tables at lunchtime at the Colombe d'Or restaurant, a reservation that usually has to be made two months in advance.
But most people found the mood better than the downright depression they'd feared. "It was a little subdued," said Linda Wolf, chairman-CEO of Bcom3's Leo Burnett Worldwide, Chicago.
In other Cannes awards, the U.S. was virtually shut out of the new direct-marketing show, dominated by the U.K., which won 17 of 44 Cannes Direct Lions including the Grand Prix, awarded to WPP Group's Harrison Troughton Wunderman, London, for a campaign about the Automobile Association's roadside assistance program. The U.S. picked up just one gold, which went to Interpublic's MRM Partners Worldwide, New York, for Aventis Pharmaceuticals. A bronze went to WPP's OgilvyOne Worldwide, New York, for Motorola.
The Media Grand Prix was won by Universal McCann, Sydney, for Unilever's Magnum ice cream.