Lion Hunt

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United States

Nike "Tag"

Wieden & Kennedy didn't win a single Film Lion last year, but the agency won't be shut out twice, thanks to this Frank Budgen-directed spot in which an entire city is involved in a game of tag. Nike's "Play" effort - which includes "Tag," "Shade Running" and "Tailgating" - has been the most honored American television campaign this awards season, earning four Silvers from the Art Directors Club; two Andys; a Gold Pencil from the One Show; and two nods from the AICP. "Tag" is clearly the strongest of the spots, however, so the question is whether it will win a Gold Lion on its own or as part of the campaign. Nor would it be a shock if this spot won the Grand Prix.

Prediction: Gold Lion

Fox Sports "LEAF BLOWER"

Fox Sports, which won the Grand Prix last year with a campaign from Cliff Freeman & Partners, returns with a new contender, this time from TBWA/Chiat/Day/San Francisco. In a trio of spots directed by Harvest's Baker Smith - "Nail Gun," "Boat" and "Leaf Blower" - consumers are warned against buying things made in October, when factory workers are preoccupied with the network's coverage of the MLB playoffs. The campaign has had a consistent season so far, earning Silvers from the Art Directors Club, D&AD and One Show. It's a lock for a Lion, but made of what? Why not be optimistic?

Prediction: Gold Lion

Toyota Celica "Dog"

This spot, featuring a dog running into a parked Celica because it looks so fast, will do better in Cannes than it has in the U.S., and it hasn't done shabbily here. It earned Saatchi & Saatchi/Los Angeles the Sweepstakes at the Belding Awards in L.A.; an Andy; a Silver Pencil from the One Show; and a nod from the AICP. The reaction last year at the Saatchi New Directors Showcase, however, was through the roof. What better litmus test could you have for this year's festival, where simple, smart and funny work rarely goes unrewarded? The clip will also benefit from the fact that Toyota's creative reputation isn't as mediocre worldwide as it is domestically.

Prediction: Gold Lion

BMW Films "The Hire"

Fallon's groundbreaking series of online films has received plenty of praise, but awards shows have been split on how to handle it. The One Club opted to give the campaign all the hardware in the house - including Best of Show among both Interactive and Print and Broadcast entries - while D&AD turned the films away. Similarly, Fallon failed to persuade Cannes officials that the short films that make up "The Hire" belong in the film category. Instead, the campaign has been entered in the Cyber and Media categories, with the likely result that it will dominate both.

Prediction: Cyber and Media Gold Lions

Nike "Enjoy The Weather"

Wieden & Kennedy's print campaign for Nike featuring rugged landscapes as opportunities for a workout is practically undefeated this awards season. The work has won two Golds from the Art Directors Club, two Andys and two Gold Pencils. The only blemish on this otherwise perfect record is the Kelly Awards, where the campaign took Silver behind Harley-Davidson work from Carmichael Lynch. If the U.S. manages to win the Press and Poster Grand Prix, it will be with this campaign.

Prediction: At least a Gold Lion

The World

Xbox "Champagne"

This spot from BBH/London - in which a baby is born and catapulted through life in less than 60-seconds, driving home the "Life is short, play more" tagline - might turn out to be director Daniel Kleinman's revenge. Kleinman's "Bear" spot for Leo Burnett/London and John West salmon lost out on the Grand Prix last year, but in "Champagne" he's got a contender that's got buzz to spare. The spot became so controversial in the U.K. that it was ultimately pulled off the air.

Prediction: gold lion

NSPCC "Cartoon"

Among the many stark PSAs that are eligible this year, this spot for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children is the most unsettling. Frank Budgen directs this live-action/animation hybrid for Saatchi & Saatchi/London, in which a cartoon child is whimsically but viciously abused by his father, leading to the moral that, "Real children don't bounce back."

Prediction: Gold Lion

Stella Artois "Doctor"

Lowe Lintas/London's mini-costume dramas for Stella Artois are an annual fixture at Cannes. Last year's installment, "Hero's Return," earned a Gold Lion, while this year's - in which an outbreak of plague fails to deter villagers from sharing a pint - has already been named Best Commercial of the Year by the British Television Advertising Awards.

Prediction: Gold Lion

Grand Prix

Levi's "Odyssey"

Choosing the Grand Prix is tricky this year, as it was last year, since there is no obvious favorite. It's a good bet, however, that Nike's "Tag", the "Champagne" spot for Xbox and Levi's sublime "Odyssey" will remain in the running until late in the game. In that company, Jonathan Glazer's surreal mini-epic for BBH/London is as good a pick as any. Its performance at awards shows thus far has been inconsistent. It's won a Gold Pencil and a Gold from the BTAA but didn't even rate a Silver at D&AD. Still, the spot is eerily beautiful, obliquely sexy and thoroughly exhilarating.

Prediction: Grand Prix

Kawasaki Ninja "Road"

Germany's sole Gold last year was for BMW Motorbikes, and this year its best hope is a spot for the Kawasaki Ninja from TBWA/Berlin. We see a man stopping by the side of a deserted road. He takes his backpack and throws it across before getting a running start to get across himself, lest an ultra-fast Ninja come out of nowhere.

Prediction: Gold Lion

Fanta "Weight Check"

Japan was left out of the Lions last year, but has a contender this year in a campaign for Fanta from Hakuhodo/Tokyo. In one spot, a pudgy child slides past a weight check with the help of a jetpack. In another a can of Fanta explodes like a cannon, blowing up an offshore island. Strange, but funny.

Prediction: in the Lions

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