Cannes Picks

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What might make this year's International Advertising Festival interesting is a lack of frontrunners. Who knows what goes on among awards show juries, but so far this year the various panels haven't agreed on much. Volkswagen won Best of Show at the Andy Awards; Mini was the star of the One Show; Nike Presto got its due from the Art Directors Club; and Ikea captured the Grand Clio. The D&AD, meanwhile, failed to present a Gold Award for the first time since 1995. Predicting Lions in such an environment is a tricky business, but here some campaigns that are likely to strike Gold.

GRAND PRIX: Honda "Cog"

In a year without frontrunners, only this spot has stood out as completely unique. It also managed to create an international buzz and become something of a viral phenomenon - both good omens when heading to Cannes. With its exquisite marriage of concept and execution, comparing "Cog" to any other Lion contenders is like comparing apples to oranges. The Film jury will hit the town early on Friday after quick deliberations. This won't even be close.

Volkswagen: "Squares" This spot, from Arnold Worldwide and director Malcolm Venville, will definitely win a Gold Lion, either by itself or as part of last year's campaign for the Beetle, which includes the musical number "Bubble Boy" and the meditative "Chain Reaction." "Squares" is backed by the strongest concept, however, as we see a montage of square objects juxtaposed with the decidedly unsquare Beetle. That makes it VW's strongest contender.

MTV: "I Watched MTV Once" This is the non-U.S. campaign that will have American handwringers doing just that after it scoops up a Lion or two or, God forbid, the Grand Prix. It will be Club 18-30 all over again! This Latin American effort, from la comunidad in Miami/ Buenos Aires, would never play in the U.S., although it did get the best response from the One Show audience last month, where it won a passel of Pencils. One spot, "Baby" - in which a nursing child makes a move on his mother's other breast - also won the broadcast Grand Prix at FIAP.

Fox Sports: "The More You Watch" Can Fox Sports possibly win a Gold Lion for three years in a row with work featuring cringe-making slapstick violence? It can and it will. Whatever you want to say about the decline of violence in commercials, Fox Sports has stayed the course. And this campaign, from TBWAChiatDaySan Francisco - in which watching hockey makes guys ridiculously tough - has been the awards season's common denominator, winning two Andys, two Gold Pencils at the One Show and two Silvers at D&AD. It's probably not Grand Prix material, but it will rate a Gold Lion.

John Smith's: "No Nonsense" This comic campaign featuring comedian Peter Kay is an English favorite, and was the only British campaign to win a Silver at the D&ADs. The gem is a spot in which a bloke relates how his daughter asked where babies came from and the graphically frank answer he gave her, driving home the beer's "No nonsense" tagline. This will win Gold, either singly or as a campaign.

Nike Presto: "Angry Chicken" This spot feels like it broke ages ago. It began airing just after last year's Festival, where Wieden + Kennedy and Nike earned the Film Grand Prix for "Tag." No Grand Prix this year, but "Angry Chicken," with its bizarre plot, gratuitous dubbing and mesmerizing acrobatics, will demand attention and score Gold as perhaps the boldest commercial of the year.

Mini: Various Crispin Porter + Bogusky won two Media Lions last year for its innovative launch campaign for Mini. This year, the tiny car will cruise into the festival with more work and 16 One Show Pencils. The difficult thing here is to predict what categories Mini's Lions will come from. Certainly a Media Lion is not out of the question, and the campaign's elaborate installations will surely contend for the Outdoor Grand Prix. Of course, this year's festival will feature the presentation of the new Titanium Lion for innovation. Unless the jury decides to use it to make up for slighting BMW Films last year, that award is Mini's to lose.

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