Cannes 2012

Coke, Mercedes Each Win Outdoor Grand Prix

Two Top Prizes Awarded as Category Expands With Range of Media

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Both the "Coke Hands" billboard from Ogilvy, Shanghai, and Mercedes-Benz "The Invisible Drive" from Jung Von Matt Hamburg won Grand Prix awards for outdoor at the Cannes ad festival today. The Coke win represents mainland China's second top prize at Cannes; last year, the country picked up the press Grand Prix.

The two Grand Prix winners illustrated both ends of the outdoor-ad spectrum, from traditional posters and billboards to the newest uses of technology. The fact that jurors can award two top prizes in the outdoor category demonstrates how the category has had to evolve as the range of media expands, said festival CEO Philip Thomas. Here, the two types of media are so different there should be room to award both. Jurors can award more than one Grand Prix in the cyber and film categories, too.

WHAT THEY ARE: "Coke Hands" is a simple graphic poster with a play on Coca-Cola's iconic white ribbon on a red background. Twenty-year-old art student Jonathan Mak Long designed the poster; Ogilvy had tracked him down after Mr. Long's tribute to Steve Jobs went viral after his death.

"The Invisible Drive" is an ambient installation that took to the roads in Germany. The agency covered a zero-emission F-cell car with LED lights, which displayed the images from a camera affixed to the sides of the car to create the illusion that the car was invisible. It was meant to illustrate the car's "invisible" impact on the environment. The campaign resulted in lots of press mentions highlighting the optical illusion.

WHY THEY WON: The Coke billboard was celebrated for its simplicity, while "Invisible Drive" was honored for its measured use of technology. "The billboard is a lovely expression of the brand's philosophy; it's so simple but embodies a deep meaning," said jury president Lo Sheung Yan. "It's not all about new technology; there's room for simple graphic ideas as well," added U.K. juror Paul Silburn.

The Merecedes campaign, on the other hand, wielded complicated technology to communicate a clear idea: the car left no trace. "Technology definitely gives us a lot of possibility, but at the same time, the key is : are you driving the technology? Or is the technology driving you?" Mr. Yan said. "This campaign has demonstrated how to leverage technology rather than trying to be cool or showing off."

CONTROVERSY OR CLEAR WINNER? Both winners were selected unanimously, said the jury chair.

TOTAL LIONS: More than 100 outdoor Lions were awarded and nearly half were Gold winners. The U.S. won no outdoor Gold. Just as China is emerging to become a bigger creative power house, another set of countries is starting to move up. Jurors said that smaller Latin American countries like Peru and Colombia had stronger entries than ever.

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