Commentary by Stefano Hatfield


American Jurors Call Work 'Sexist,' Juvenile,' 'Offensive'

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CANNES ( -- Tuesday night sex came between North America and the rest of the world.

I don't mean in the first Cannes Lion Outdoor awards, where

Stefano Hatfield is the editorial director of 'Ad Age Global' and 'Creativity.'
the standard was, frankly, dismal: The Grand Prix, for a campaign for a Norwegian body-piercing salon, awarded a cheap stunt that sets back the industry a decade. Was it a ghost ad? Someone said it at least was for the largest body-piercing salon in Oslo. So that's OK then.

Sex acts
The "problem" came with the print Grand Prix award to the naughty Club 18-30 Holidays campaign from Saatchi & Saatchi, London. Essentially it is a cleverly art-directed piece that is crafted to make it look like entirely innocent situations on a beach are actually sex acts.

As is plain for the rest of the world to see, it is a suggestive piece equating the likelihood of going on a Club 18-30 vacation with the likelihood of getting laid. It is perfect for its target audience of boozy, over-sexed young Brits.

The jury loved it, the delegates viewing it at the Palais loved it,

A portion of one of the Lions-honored ads depicts a woman with what appears to be ejaculate on her upper chest.

Click to see
larger, full image of sex act ad.

See related stories:
Saatchi London Sex Ads Win Cannes Grand Prix

Club 18-30 Lions Film Entry Features Dog Sex

Do you think the Saatchi & Saatchi sex act ads are the best print work produced anywhere in the world in the last year? Respond to
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the audience applauding its Grand Prix loved it, but the North American jurors hated it.

'Absolutely hated it'
"Sexist" was one remark, "juvenile" another, "offensive" a third. The Canadian judge, Nancy Vonk, from Ogilvy & Mather, Toronto, "absolutely hated it." Suddenly, given the surprise failure of BMW in the Media Lions, there was talk of an anti-American conspiracy, the underdogs' revenge.

Hardly. Several of the other judges simply said the Americans (poor old Canada getting lumped together with the U.S. again) needed to "lighten up" about sex in advertising.

However, it is true there is generally an air of rejecting political correctness around the Festival at a time when the U.S. is -- post 9/11 -- even more inhibited than normal. And yet the rest of the world continues to puzzle at the level of violence permissible in American advertising and on American TV in general.

Cultural gulf?
If anything, the global row about sex confirmed the current cultural gulf between the USA and the rest of the world just as much as the soccer matches have set the pace here for the last several days.

The Brazilians took to the stage waving their national flag, and a hooting car drove up and down the Croisette outside the Festival Palais with Turkish flags waving proud.

There were the occasional shouts of "come on England" from the crowd, and the Brit presenter Martin Bowley, sales director of Carlton Television, let his worries about Friday's match spill into his commentary. (Imagine Mel Karmazin a) presenting and b) shouting "Go USA!" and you get the picture.)

'Mr. Punk'
And then, for something completely different as the night wore one, was the grand entrance of "Mr. Punk" -- Malcolm McLaren, founder of the Sex Pistols

A slightly the worse for wear McLaren came swaying into the jammed Carlton Hotel terrace at 2 a.m. Wednesday to the general mass indifference of the American creative mafia present. You know the names: Daly, Ferguson, Garfinkel, Boyko, Scarpelli, Kamen, Stavros, Case and Scherma. "Who the hell is that?" asked more than one Californian blonde.

McLaren held court at a corner table, with the occasional Brit coming to pay homage to the man who gave the world Sid Vicious, Johnny Rotten, spiky hair, spitting and -- yes, shamefully, even for this writer once -- bondage trousers.

Today, he has long since sold out to the commercials community, but it looks like he will cause trouble again soon, because he has acquired the movie rights to the wonderful, best-selling book Fast Food Nation. More on McLaren after his scheduled lecture "Why Are You Creative?"

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