A Mannes in Cannes: Shortlist Monday

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As I write this the Dutch Young Creatives party is going full tilt across the road from our apartment. This is a bit like Armageddon at 160 beats per minute. The DJ has just played a set composed almost exclusively of themes from 80’s and 90’s video games. They are now thrashing around to Die Antwoord which, apart from inspiring a bout of masochistic patriotism, seems appropriate. Every now and then loud hill-billy like screams rise up out of the music, as if to suggest one of the Dutch Creatives has perhaps found the block of hash that went missing while flailing wildly to the tune of Pacman moments earlier.

Shortlist Monday began much earlier though, with Jack Black and Yahoo on stage for a seminar. I am not quite sure of Jack’s connection with Yahoo, neither was Jack for that matter ( it appears he may be making “content” with them) but let’s face it, Yahoo needs all the help it can get at this stage. Jack Black had the pleasant outlook of someone who went to bed drunk and woke up still feeling fairly tipsy. He was funny and said the word “internets” a lot, which I think was his way of trying to pay his dues. Also on stage was a fuzz-faced 17 year old in bright yellow trainers named Nick D’Aloisio. Nick was having a good day, in fact it is safe to say Nick is having a good life. At the age of 15 he raised enough venture capital to launch Summly, a news aggregation program which he recently sold to Yahoo for 15 million dollars. Nice one Nick. As I said, Yahoo needs all the help it can get, especially from brilliant 17 year olds in yellow trainers.

It was Shortlist Monday, so the Palais was filled with neurotic ECD’s charging up and down the display boards trying to find their work. The search was partially successful in South Africa’s case, with a fair smattering of Shortlists jumping Donkey Kong-like into view (the video game metaphor decision is one I am beginning to regret so I may not persist with it). I am backing the “Selfies” campaign for Cape Times to collect metal, perhaps Gold, in Press or Outdoor. South Africa was well represented in Outdoor, not so much in Promo and Direct and PR. That’s important to note, because the interesting, gamechangy work is happening in those categories, so we need to be stronger there.

One of the highlights of yesterday was an unscheduled meeting with Sir Donald Gunn, he of the fabled and crucial Gunn Report rankings. I call him Uncle Donald, because he is an old mate of my dad’s and also because it greatly elevates my self esteem by mentioning that. Besides offering a gratuitous name dropping opportunity, coffee with Uncle Donald was important for another reason, he is very plugged in, and we had a lovely chat about the potential Film Grand Prix. Of course the crowd favourite is already Dumb Ways to Die from McCann’s Melbourne (they were clapping and singing along with it at the ceremony last night already). However the Chairperson of the Film Jury is a certain Sir John Hegarty, a difficult and contrarian and brilliant adman, who is unlikely to let the jury default to populist choices. Uncle Donald seems to think it will be a straight fight between the wonderful “Susan Glenn” story for Axe and the DWTD (this abbreviation of Dumb Ways to Die now being necessary because of serial mentions that will greatly increase my word count, although this lengthy explanation of the abbreviation has kind of defeated the object a bit). Thing is, said Sir Donald, the Susan Glenn film is by Hegarty’s own agency BBH. So the plot is simmering into a nice thick fishy provencal broth on that one.

In the early evening we took our place in the queue behind the 2 thousand Japanese creatives (who had been waiting patiently for 5 hours in order to secure picture friendly seats) for last night’s ceremony. First up was PR. I must say PR is becoming increasingly crucial to what we do, and the work progressively more interesting. I suppose the rise of “native” advertising is driving that to some extent ( mentioning “native” advertising as often as possible seems to be very trendy at Cannes) I have yet to find out what it is but when I do all will be revealed. I loved the Google Plus work by Ogilvy Paris, “Same Sex Marriage”, proof that you can create a story around the story with masterful PR, or “newscrafting”.

Predictably the Dove “Sketches” work from Ogilvy Brasil won multiple Gold Lions, including a few for PR. It got a huge cheer. It is now one of the most watched pieces of content (lank points for mentioning “content” again) of all time, the cats will not be pleased. Biggest PR cheer of the night was for an idea we could do with in South Africa, from Voskhod Yekaterinburg in Russia for the ura.ru City website. Check it out, really smart and funny. The Grand Prix in PR went to DWTD by McCann’s Melbourne, I suspect the first of a few Grand Prix for them this week. Warning : if you watch the case study the tune will lodge in your head for days, which is probably better than carrying around the theme from Donkey Kong that currently haunts me.

Next up was Promo and Activation. I loved, and always have loved, the work for the London Borough of Greenwich by OgilvyOne London Group. It is important if only for the fact that it uses a behavioural economics insight, something which will come to define our industry over the next few years, I suspect. The Grand Prix went to a fabulous idea from Ogilvy Brazil for Sport Club Recife FC. It has everything, drama, huge emotional appeal, a public service spin and to top it all a simply brilliant idea. Advertising that saves lives will always transfix a jury. Ogilvy Brasil went on to win 8 Gold and a Grand Prix last night, they are now the Usain Bolts of the ad world, making all the rest of us feel inadequate and weedy.

I was a bit disappointed with the Direct Lions. There has always been a preponderance of Charity and PSA work at Cannes, the obvious emotional appeal of causes and appeals makes it an easy target for awards hungry agencies. But as a jury, and especially as a Chairperson, you need to accept and try and mentally account for that. Not the Direct Jury. Oh no, they were flinging Gold Lions at charity work like French Air Traffic Controllers chucking stale baguettes at a wildcat strike. Mark Tutssel, the Chairperson of the Direct Jury, should stand on a street corner and self-flagellate, possibly with a stale baguette. If I was a client watching that lot I’d be pissed off. Then the Direct panel topped it off with the monumental howler of the week so far and gave the Grand Prix to a film, DWTD. Yes, there’s was a reachy attempt by the agency to make it a “direct” idea, but come on Direct Jury, get a freaking grip people.

Last up was the first Effectiveness Lions. A nice sprinkling of work with once again some decisions more questionable than a Bafana Bafana defensive performance. They gave an effectiveness award to John Lewis for, er, being brave enough to run some lovely commercials. Brilliant. They redeemed themselves somewhat by giving a Lion to American Express for Small Business Saturday, but they will have to do better next year.

Well done to the lads and lasses at Y&R SA who picked up 2 Silvers last night for their “Hope Soap” idea. Apart from that the SA pickings were lean. Tuesday sees the Cyber Shortlist, so we’ll find out if Graham Warsop’s case of Champagne will be liberated this year or not. I must say I do fancy striding into his office and lifting it off the Chesterfield. If we don’t Shortlist then, well, there will be much flailing of arms and moaning and drowning of sorrows in bottles of Rose served by diffident and unsympathetic waiters. We live and hope though.

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Mannes in Cannes // Part 6 // I know what you did last night.

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Well, this is my final Mannes in Cannes. Reason being, I am not even in Cannes anymore. So this is more “Man in Dubai International Airport on Dodgy Wifi Eating BLT” which has a lovely ring to it you must admit.

To be honest the last few days have been of a mind copulation. Beginning with a lovely, air-conditioned viewing of the outstanding TV Shortlist on Friday. And what a great Shortlist it was, viewed with the bare minimum of low whistles (the Cannes version of the boo, don’t ask me why). This was accompanied by the news that Ogilvy Cape Town had one last Shortlist, in Branded Content and Entertainment, for our Carling Black Label “Be the coach” work. So we were to be in the game for the final ceremony at Cannes, the grand finale of the week.

Also on Friday was the long awaited on-stage chit-chat between Dan Wieden and John Hegarty. Together, as founders of fiercely independent agencies Wieden and Kennedy and BBH, they have given the world some of the most recognizable and best loved work of the past 2 decades, for brands such as Levi’s, Nike, Honda and, more recently, The Guardian. This was barbed, slick, funny and wise banter the likes of which you don’t see often. It was easy to see why these guys have set the pace for advertising excellence for a while now.

Friday night was South African party night. Very cool to see the flag flying over the Croisette. The general feeling was that we had done jolly well ( at that stage 25 Lions for the week) but our paltry 4 film Shortlists was like totally not cool hey bru, we need to make like Avis and try harder. It was good to get together with some local seuntjies after a hectic week of talking in broken English to full bearded Swedish web designers and trying to evade aggressive New York production people.

Saturday, for me, began on the beach, with a vroeg in die more swim in the Med.

As I towelled myself off, my phone buzzed excitedly next to me. It was 10.35. As a shortlisted agency at Cannes you generally spend the day of the ceremony in a state of angsty anticipation in case you get “the call” from the festival organizers, who will tell you that you have won gold. Generally this does not happen and the prickly anticipation fades rapidly after 10.30, to be replaced by a bleak disappointment, which is in turn replaced later in the day by a fresh, although slightly muted, optimism that you may have won silver or bronze.

The message, from my wonderful and tremendously on the ball awards manager back home in SA, said simply “We got gold””.

Anyone who was on the Ville de Cannes beach that day would have observed a man in black swimming trunks get up off his lounger and air punch repeatedly. This was directly followed by a curious hopping dance on the water’s edge. The rest of the day was spent in a trance-like state of serendipity, punctuated by vigorous bromantic hugging of fellow Ogilvy SA people.

Tommy Le RouxSo for the very first time I did not have to queue with thousands of sweaty delegates in the sun for 2 hours before the Film ceremony. Tommy Le Roux and I were shown to our seats at the front of the auditorium. Directly in front of us was Ted Royer, Chief Creative Officer of Droga 5, who was receiving txts throughout the ceremony from the man himself, Dave Droga. We know this because we read them over his shoulder. Towards the end of the evening our big moment arrived and we shuffled happily across the stage to collect our Gold Lion from the Jury Chair. It all happened very fast, a bit like a car accident, only a good one, if that makes any sense.

Gold OgilvyCTFilm Grand Prix went to goody-goody fast food outlet Chipotle “Back to the start”, which I liked a lot. That piece also got the Branded content and entertainment Grand Prix for the work done around it in the Cultivate program. The Gold’s were all good on the night. There are too many to list, and this blog post is very late, mostly due to the aliens’ interfering with our server capacity (at least that’s what the IT guy says). But please have a look at them (Click here), they are a huge part of what was, for me anyway, the best work I have seen at Cannes for years. It’s been lovely jabbering away like this all week. It would be great to do it again this year. It would be even better to do it while my agency clocks up another 7 Lions, although that would be overly optimistic.

chris gotzI will see you all back in SA after my 26 hour flight odyssey. I dearly hope I do not have to sit next to a full-bearded Swedish web designer or a hustling New York animatic production agent.

I have had enough of that for one year. And I really don’t want to have to share my Xtra large bag of duty free Maltesers with anyone.

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Mannes in Cannes // Part 3 // Lessons in fragility

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If day one was all about discovering shitness then day 2 was all about my sense of fragility.

This may partly be because I am trying to survive on very little sleep and occasional mouthfuls of Maltesers. Slugs of ice cold Perrier provide only partial and temporary relief. Arianna Huffington, she of the Huffington post, spoke about lack of sleep in her wonderful seminar yesterday. She says it is the central malaise of modern society and the cause of many of our ills. She also said that lack of sleep has somehow strangely become associated with male virility. In other words men who have had 3 hours sleep will comment “I only had 3 hours sleep and 2 handfuls of Maltesers but here I am battling through the day like a champion“. Women do not do this because they are, on the whole, more sensible and sentient beings. She also said lots of other stuff and identified a few megatrends.

The other great talk yesterday was Contagious magazine’s annual trend summary of where the world is going, and what the work is telling us about the present and the future. Truly fascinating stuff. My proudest moment at Cannes so far (apart from boasting in a virile way about having has no sleep and living on mouthfuls of Maltesers) was when they played the Carling Be the Coach case study as an example of truly engaging, social work. You get quite a kick when 5000 ad people are listening to the most influential trend spotters in communications flag your work as terribly important. Yeeee bloody haaaaa.

And so on to last night’s awards, where I wore smart black leather shoes instead of trainers (I thought they would bring me luck, more formal y’know). This turned out to be a mistake, as Steve Back, Aussie Chief Creative Officer of Ogilvy Singapore launched into a tirade of derogatory comment about my footwear, “did your wife buy you those mate”, cue raucous harharharing from gathered creatives, all wearing trainers to formal evening. Anyhow, they turned out to be a bit in the lucky side, as Ogilvy Cape Town went on to win 3 Lions. Two for Carling Be the Coach and one for Volkswagen Bluemotion Label. It is so bloody wonderful to be on the scoreboard here folks, I cannot tell you enough about the quality of the work we are up against. I will, however, try. Please look at it, it is truly a reflection of the way we should all be thinking at the moment.

Take a look at the brilliant “Beauty of a second” piece by Leo Burnett Milan. Truly beautiful little one second short films that really make you feel better about life. It is so good when advertising improves the world a little bit, and that was a recurring theme last night, brands doing their bit for people, for places, for society in general. I suppose digital conversation platforms and social media have made brands super sensitive about the people they are talking to, and the people who are talking about them, so in order to be liked, to guide positive and inspiring conversations about themselves, they do positive, inspiring, altruistic work. Which is making our industry pretty much the greatest it has ever been. Either that or I am just sleep deprived and on a chocolate high.

Check out “Bring your own cup day” for 711 Slurpees from Leo Burnett Melbourne, for just the coolest, feelgoodest promotion. “The return of the dictator Ben Ali” by our very own Ogilvy Tunisia is totally, wonderfully powerful and inspiring, it is work that changes a country. Then the Hellman’s “Mayonnaise recipe receipt” is a little piece of genius from Ogilvy Sao Paulo, once again unexpectedly rewarding people with a cool, smart brand experience. South Africa’s Metropolitan Republic won big with a Gold and Silver Lion for Wimpy “Braille burgers“, a truly popular piece that went crazy on the web, good on yer boys. The big, big winner on the night was “Small business gets an official day” for American Express from Crispin Porter Bogusky, Boulder. Once again a brand acting for the better good of all, this time doing it’s bit for small businesses. Deservedly it won 2 Grand Prix’s.

chris gotzAnd so day 2 came to a subdued close. All that remains is for me to shout out an unashamed plug for my twitter handle @MrChristiffa, where I try and keep an irreverent and watchful up to the minute eye in things. Although it has been pointed out to me that for the past 2 days I have been hash tagging a bar in Amsterdam instead of the Cannes Lions Festival, i am a bit of a digital immigrant I am afraid. If you want an altogether more reliable and comprehensive view on things then @OgilvyCT and of course @ididthatad are probably the better follows, with our very own Kate Desmarais and Julie Maunder at the controls. Until tomorrow then. Day 3 beckons. And that bag of Maltesers is calling me.

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A Mannes in Cannes: We are all shit.


There can be only one word to describe my first day at Cannes Lions 2012. Party. This has nothing, however, to do with red faced Swedish people singing loud tequila-inspired cross country skiing folk songs at the Gutter Bar. It concerns a short, funny Japanese man (not sure of his name, they all look the same to me, haha, ethnic joke, cue social media damnation ). The man works for an agency called Party, in Tokyoand he is very clever and inspiring and, quite frankly, makes the rest of us look quite shit. Shit is a word that came up fairly frequently in his seminar. He said we ad folk are all shit and our work is mostly shit and our clients, they’re shit too. Strangely, people quite liked this and clapped. Of course our shitness, or possible confirmation of it, is something we creative people are instinctively terrified of. Perhaps everyone was quite relieved that someone had finally come out and said it.

Anyhow Morihiro Harano(you see, I do know his name) went on to explain why we are shit. You see, we have been working the same way, art director-copywriter teams, with the same mediums – Print, Promotions, PR, TV, Web for nearly 60 years. Yet we are supposed to be the edgy, frontier-testing cowboys. His, agency, Party, is finding new ways to work, which are producing incredible and smart solutions to client problems. Not ads so much as product ideas, design solutions, strategy interventions. He showed us some of this work and it really is very good, best of all very little of it could be classified as ads, creative yes, ads – definitely not.

That really has been the theme so far this year- changing the way we do everything. As the nice, softly spoken Swede (they’re bloody everywhere aren’t they?) said in the goviraltalk this morning, “We are in the middle of the single greatest change in consumer behaviour in the history of advertising.” The key themes are shaping up already. Social is everywhere, in everything, it’s about groups not individuals. Brand utility, doing something or being something for people, is more important than ever. Content and entertainment and interactive storytelling are the most common tools. And boy does it show when you look at the work. For years I have been coming here listening to people spouting on about digital and social and how interactivity will change everything. Well now it bloody has. The king is dead folks, long live the king.

Take a look at the shortlisted work in the direct category. It is astounding in it’s breadth and quality, in the deep tech that is embedded in so many of the ideas, in the wonderful twisty, unpredictable nature of the storytelling. There is the potential Grand Prix in the “Connecting Lifelines” work for Honda out of Japan. They updated GPS systems to include only the roads that were open after the tsunami hit. Once again a brand going beyond advertising and doing something that builds true affinity. The Audi “Fan messenger” from Kempertrautmann is a wonderful example of how new tech can breed brilliant possibilities. Also a potential Gold, I think, even if it does have hints of Nike “Chalkbot”. Then there’s the “Blood relations” activation created by Baumann Ber Rivnay Saatchi and Saatchi Israel. We often talk about social tension, but this piece has it in buckets. The South African work is there too, which is quite an achievement on this Rolls Royce of Shortlists. Our very own Be the Coach piece seems to be popular, thank heavens. And Metro’s Wimpy Braille Burgers is popping up everywhere. KingJames are in the game too with their superb “Back at ya” work for Sanlam. In all some of the best work I have seen for a long time.

chris gotzWhatever this thing is that we’ve been banging on about for the past few years, it’s definitely here. Tech is hooking up with social, interactivity is serving the drinks and digital is providing the 5 star accommodation. If you’re not embracing all of these things, if they are not truly (I say truly because a lot of us are still pretending) part of the DNA of your agency, then run as fast as you can towards it. Or alternatively you should just run away. Now I am going to go to bed, and contemplate my shitness. And think what the bloody hell I’m going to do about it.

Chris Gotz: A Mannes in Cannes

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Actually I’m not. A man in Cannes, that is. For the time being I am a man in Salt River, which is altogether less glamorous, although it is a whole bunch cheaper. There is probably a gutter bar somewhere around here too, or at least a bar in a gutter. On Friday night, however, I will be squeezing myself into an Emirates bucket seat and zooming off to the Riviera to swan around with the world’s ad larneys. I have packed my favourite t-shirts with the coolest possible motifs, a black jacket in case I get asked to pick up something gold and lion-shaped (it’s the hope that kills you) and some swimming trunks so I can plunge into the warm, murky waters of the Med.

I truly hope SA has a brilliant week. I hope we win big in radio again but also up our creds in categories beyond the “old” media stalwarts. A Cyber Lion would be huge, as would lifting the case of Champagne off Warsop’s couch (does it come with a dog?). Any Lions in Promo, Design and Mobile would also have me air punching like an 80’s tribute band. A Titanium or Integrated win and I’ll buy a round of drinks at the Gutter Bar. There, I said it. Take that overzealous finance guy.

So what are we up against ? I must admit there is some pretty daunting opposition this year.

Of course there will be the usual raft of Brazilian/Chinese/Malaysian print (mostly posters) lovingly crafted by hordes of child-illustrators and art directors over months and months. And it will be good. And we will never have seen it before, ever, chances are no-one else will have either. However, some of the work that’s been out there for a while is frighteningly excellent.

In Film there’s the wonderful Guardian “3 Little Pigs” spot from BBH London, Chipotle’s beautifully crafted “Back to the Start” which will surely also win big in craft (almost a certainty for Craft Grand Prix) – I think by the end of the week we’ll all be singing along with Willie Nelson.

Promo and Activations are suddenly tres, tres sexy. Clients love them (especially if they … altogether now … “Go Viral!!!”). In first place on that count, with over 50 million hits, is the amazing TNT “Dramatic surprise on a quiet square.” stunt. Watch it and weep. Although there’s also the Tic-tac “Worst breath in the world.” flash mob from Ogilvy Paris. Breathtaking is the only way to describe the Mercedes Benz “Invisible car” activation from those very clever people at Jung Von Matt, it will feature all week, I think.

Elsewhere there’s the genius of RGA and their “Google wallet”, a tap payment system for smart phones, which looks a sure bet for a Titanium. You know our industry is changing at light speed when a digital payment system is in contention at Cannes. The “Hibernating bear” for Volkswagen (a winter promo that lasts until a live web-cammed hibernating bear wakes up) from DDB Oslo is a fabulous, wish-I’d-done-that digital promotion. In radio the beautifully simple “The absolute pitch” for the Hannover Academy of Music and Theatre is sure to seduce the jury. And so it goes on.

By the end of next week, whether you’re in Cannes or not, you will be inspired and excited by the world’s best work, which always makes the strip ad for direct-dial insurance you’re working on seem even more depressing. The technology revolution and the rise of digital as a channel have been like creative steroids for our industry. And keeping up with it all has become more important to our very survival than ever before.

CannesAs Hyper Island said last week, “Today is faster than yesterday, and tomorrow will be faster than today.”

So I’d better get going.

See you in Cannes.