Monday, June 26, 2006

The Lions have Arrived

No, I'm not talking about the English football team. They've made the quarters of the World Cup but it has been an unimpressive display so far methinks.

What I am referring to is the Cannes Lions - one of the world's premier advertising awards. It's been today's timesink, and a fabulous one at that. I love advertising, especially film ads. The best ones combine aspects of storytelling, production and sublime messaging to create an intrigue about the product that transcends 'we want you to buy this' to 'i want to try this.' Many of the winning ads do, and that's what's fun about spending hours checking these out.

A few days ago, I was at the local grocery store, and near the checkout was a collection of speciality-type chocolates. I picked up a box of Baci. Baci? I'd never heard of those until a month or so prior. I was checking out the winners of another really awesome ad awards - the EPICA - when I came across what the romantic in me considered the best of the bunch. Yes, it was for Baci. When I saw them at the store, I bought them not so much for the chocolate, but for the little notes in them that the ad highlighted. [personally, i think the ones in fortune cookies are way better. but, i digress]

I recommend checking both the Lions and the EPICA winners and finalists when you have the time to spare, but here are some of my faves.

NoitulovE - If the pundits be the voices of God, this spot by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO for Guiness is the absolute best ad of the year. It won both the Epica D'or as well as the Grand Prix at Cannes.
Synopsis: Three young men at a bar drink Guinness. Suddenly the action pauses and the film starts to play in reverse. The men walk backwards out of the bar. As they walk they seamlessly go back down the evolutionary chain through hundreds, thousands, millions of years. Super: GUINNESS. Good things come to those who wait. (bonus points: The name of the ad, NoitulovE, is Evolution spelled backwards!)

A Love Story in Four Parts(One, Two, Three, Four): This set of four spots, by Thailand's JEH United Bangkok, for Smooth-E Baby Face Foam absolutely rocks (personal bias since I've been to Thailand and really like the language).
Synopsis: Decades ago before DVDs, the classic Thai selling method was free outdoor cinema that sold a product during a show. We brought that back… We created "The Love Story" series of 4 episodes that not only sells but also pokes fun a conventional 'Beauty' commercials.

Imitation, best form, Flattery, etc: I guess most people may have seen the spot called 'Balls', made by Fallon London for Sony's Bravia LCD TV's. It won a Gold at Cannes. There was another ad, almost an exact replica of the first one down to the music and the frog, created by Clemmow Hornby Inge called 'Bravo' for Tango Clear, and it won a Silver. Very beautiful both.
Balls Synopsis:Dropping 250,000 brightly coloured bouncy balls down the streets of San Francisco for real = colour like no other.
Bravo Synopsis: To promote Tango Clear, a refreshing fruit drink with no added sugar, we dumped thousands of pieces of fruit in Swansea and filmed what happened.

You say Tomato, I say Tomato: Two awesome, awesome ads to promote language centers (of all things!). One of them, called 'Mayday, Mayday', created by Norway's BTS United for Berlitz Language Centers won a Gold at Cannes. The other, called 'Rapid Spanish', created by Kolle Rebbe Werbeagentur for Inlingua Language Center, won the B2B award at EPICA.
Berlitz Synopsis: At a German Coastguard, a recruit is getting his tutorial on his first day. The senior officer leaves the control room. Suddenly a "mayday" comes from an English ship: "WE ARE SINKING". The recruit answers in german-english: "Whatz are you sinking aboutz...?"
Inlingua Synopsis: Well, it's better told seen.

Boys and Girls, use Condoms to prevent AIDS: Again two spots, one a winner at Cannes, the other at EPICA, but both were for the same campaign - AIDS awareness, by TBWA\Paris. They are both animated spots: 'Sugar Baby Love' and 'Vibrators'. Contains animated nudity.
Sugar Baby Love Synopsis: As a little boy grows, he discovers that he prefers men. After a series of dating catastrophes, he finally meets the man of his dreams. TAG: Live long enough to find the right one. Protect yourself.
Vibrators Synopsis: As a little girl grows, she discovers that she too, well, prefers men. After a series of dating catastrophies, she finally meets the man of her dreams. TAG: Live long enough to find the right one. Protect yourself.

Argentina's Silver Lining: I was in Buenos Aires for spring break, fantastic place, but it is a country still trying to drag itself out of the economic mess it's been in since the last 3-odd years. But, there seems to be an emergant creativity in that place. Take a walk through Palermo Soho, considered one of the planet's hippest neighborhoods right now by the travel-writers-in-the-know, and you are surrounded by some of the coolest independant fashion designers, jostling for space with art-house-restaurants. I was talking with a woman who had a month-old boutique called Postman where she sells all of 3 designs of laptop bags/totes, and I later google it to find that tourists buy half-a-dozen bags at a time! Hey, I bought one too. As did my traveling companion.
Anyways, it seems like this creativity extends to the world of advertising too. I couldn't help notice that there were quite a few Argentine winners at Cannes! Here is a i-like-these listing:

Truth: Political Message created by Savaglio\TBWA
This TV commercial addresses people in a straightforward and intelligent way. It starts by providing a very dark vision of Argentina, to later surprise the audience with a totally opposite message that appears when you read it upside down.

Father & Daughter: Young & Rubicam Buenos Aires for MTV
A rock star has to explain to his daughter how she was conceived. With no inhibitions, he decides to tell her the story in great detail... Moral: Rock is hard.

Vladimir: El Hotel/JWT for Knorr Soups
a love story between a Russian man and an argentine woman who meet by any chance. Clara and Valdimir, each one in their one country, meet themselves working on cleaning in a conference room. Without realizing, she presses the redial button and a videoconference screen opens with Vladimir on it. Heart-warming stuff

Sorry Mum: Santo for Unilever.
Children apologize for getting dirty.

Dog: McCann Ericsson Argentina for Bavaria Beer
Sometimes a good beer can give you the joy that you need