It’s day three and there have been two awards shows so far. On Monday night, the Direct, Promo and Mobile Lions were distributed and last night it was the turn of the Media Lions.
The Direct Grand Prix was given to Grey New York for “Interceptions” for Volvo.
The idea was to invite the millions of Americans who were watching the Superbowl to tweet the name of someone they loved in order to win a new Volvo car for that person. The twist was, you had to tweet the name during the TV break, when a car commercial was running. So, while Mercedes and Lexus were spending a fortune on running their ads, viewers had their attention focused on their smartphones and on Volvo. Clever.
So why did it win nothing in the Media awards?
I put the question to one of the jury. He told me they had really liked the idea but the results weren’t remotely good enough for an award. “Only 50,000 tweets,” he scoffed.
And there you have it, the split between media agencies and creative agencies perfectly described. One group is driven by numbers and the other by the wow factor.
This is the conflict between the science and the art of advertising which M&C Saatchi claim they have managed to reconcile. Last week, to celebrate the agency’s 20th anniversary, Lord Saatchi hosted an event at the V&A Museum in London (art) which then moved to the Science Museum (science). He announced that his team have found a ‘magic formula’ that blends both approaches in a foolproof methodology that will lead to brilliant and effective advertising.
They promise to reveal the formula next week. Smells of hocus pocus, a rather childish PR stunt.
Still, the fact remains that in the advertising business, some people really are driven by numbers and some aren’t. The numbers people have been louder this year than ever in suggesting that Cannes has become an irrelevant festival of self-congratulation.
See The Guardian on 8th June in which Tom Goodwin suggests Cannes has become an orgy of self-regard, an industry “unbundling itself further from reality.” He may have a point. Of the 10 Media Golds awarded last night, seven are for NGOs and only one has a purely commercial purpose.
This is Ogilvy Germany’s “Rabbit Race” for Media Markt.
Rather than just offer shoppers a standard 10% off at their stores over the Easter weekend, Media Markt invited people to try for bigger discounts by betting on races run by rabbits. TV and online were seamlessly connected. Brilliant.
But back to Goodwin for a moment. Looking at the Big Won database that I manage, I see Tom Goodwin does not seem to have won any awards in his career, bar one shortlist mention in 2010. Cannes is now so big that it is easy for Goodwin to find enough winners to support his jibe.
However, speaking as one who is moved more by an idea than by its results, the Volvo “Interception” idea may not have massive results but it could inspire someone else to try a similar ambush strategy and collect five million tweets along the way.
That’s what Cannes is all about. Seeing ideas that inspire.
Take the winner of the Grand Prix for Mobile, Google’s “Cardboard”. This isn’t so much an advertising idea as a new platform, which is inspiring agencies and marketers to start creating 360-video experiences that will enthrall their customers and fans.
More than that, it is an idea that is already changing the nature of entertainment.
This is not an industry unbundling itself from reality but an industry trying in myriad ways to embrace change.