Cannes 2008

It's a Tie: 'Halo,' 'Gorilla' Win Film Grand Prix

Web Series for Blockbuster Video-Game Launch Shares Top Honors With Traditional TV Ad From Candy Maker Cadbury

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CANNES ( -- Old screens merged with new in the Cannes International Advertising Festival's Film category, with a first dual Grand Prix between Cadbury's "Gorilla" TV commercial and Microsoft's "Halo 3" web film campaign for the Xbox video game. Cadbury: Gorilla

"They're both phenomenal pieces of work," said JWT chief creative officer and jury chair Craig Davis before screening "Enemy Weapon" from the "Halo" web film series and "Gorilla" at the press conference, the latter provoking air drumming and applause inside the packed meeting room. "[Choosing one over the other] was a little bit futile when essentially you've got fantastic work in both spaces," Mr. Davis said.

Halo's win includes the web films, from TAG at McCann Worldgroup, as well as "Combat," a live-action web film.

Campaigns drove business
The ape and the Chief are two of the biggest icons of advertising this year but have one key similarity -- both are linked to business successes. The "Halo 3" web work was the deep content within a full-on, integrated rollout campaign keyed to the biggest video-game launch in history. Fallon, London's "Gorilla" features an actor wearing an animatronic gorilla outfit emoting and drumming along to Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight," a spontaneous outburst of branded joy which the candy maker says led to sales gains.

For all the talk of Cadbury's polarizing nature, jury members said it wasn't difficult to award it the Grand Prix along with "Halo." Xbox: 'Halo 3'

"There were good arguments made for both 'Halo' and 'Gorilla,'" said Canadian juror Aaron Starkman, creative director at Zig in Toronto. "But there have been rules in place for television forever, and it's a tight box, so I'd argue it's harder to do something amazing in television and Cadbury's done it." Mr. Starkman said that halfway through the process the judges thought about the kind of message it would send if "Gorilla" wasn't given a Grand Prix and rallied behind it.

"It's an extremely impressive piece of footage," said South African juror Paul Warner, founder and ECD of MetropolitanRepublic. "I think that's clearly what made it stand out."

'Courageous piece of work'
Mr. Davis agreed. "It's a courageous piece of work, in my view. It defies many of the conventions of confectionary advertising. What 'Gorilla' does is it challenges all those assumptions and subverts them all and says that chocolate is all about pleasure. It's a great piece of entertainment ... everyone's waiting for that moment, everyone's going to want to drum along."

Fallon, London, also won a Gold Lion for Skoda "Cake," in which a car is built out of pastry.

The decision to award the shared Grand Prix stemmed from a large amount of great work from the "B" categories -- internet film, interactive film, integrated film and other screens -- all of which had entries shortlisted. "It wasn't indecision, we were very decisive," said Ted Horton, the Australian juror and ECD at Melbourne's Big Red Group.

"It seemed a little bit unfair after two hours of debate to try and force one of them through a particular gate at the expense of another," Mr. Davis explained. "Gorilla" was entered in broadcast while the "Halo" work came under the internet film classification. "Diorama," the "Halo 3" anthem spot which drove TV viewers to go online to see the other parts of content, wasn't eligible to be included in the Grand Prix group, but was awarded a Gold Lion and a Bronze for music. Festival regulations prevent entrants from putting the same piece of work into both the "A" and "B" categories. Notably, there were no winners or shortlisted entries from the mobile or interactive film categories. "There was nothing very exciting in that space this year," said Mr. Davis. "There was nothing that tickled us enough."

Tallying up the Lions
The jury awarded 21 Gold, 33 Silver and 52 Bronze Lions; U.S.-based work took 12 of the Gold, 10 of the Silver and 15 Bronze, over one third of the total. Additional U.S. Gold went to Saatchi & Saatchi's Crest toothpaste campaign ("Bulldozer," "Lice" and "Prenup"), which jurors say was also a Grand Prix contender; sneaker maker Nomis' "Damn Boots" out of JohannesLeonardo in New York, which won an additional Lion for Best Music; Burger King's "Whopper Freakout" from Smuggler and Crispin, Porter & Bogusky; AT&T's "Scorsese" and HBO's "Voyeur" from BBDO, New York and Big Spaceship; Skittles' "Touch" from TBWA/Chiat/Day, New York; Nike's "Next Level" from 72andSunny and Anonymous Content; and Droga5's Tracfone spots, animated by World Leaders Entertainment.

Agency of the Year honors went to BBDO, New York, with Almap BBDO in Sao Paulo and DDB, London, following. BBDO took Network of the Year, followed by DDB and Saatchi & Saatchi. Palme D'or, the award for top production company, went to MJZ, followed by RSA Films, Gorgeous Enterprises, O Positive and Biscuit Filmworks.
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