Mannes in Cannes #WINNING

Chris Gotzphoto (6)

Life sometimes pivots dramatically on a single phone call. Sometimes it’s bad news, and it changes everything. And sometimes, perhaps less frequently, it’s something so lovely and amazing you’ll never forget it.

Wonderman T-ShirtsYesterday morning I was watching an early seminar in the Wunderman Beach Cabana. For those who don’t know, Wunderman is Y&R’s Direct company. The Wunderman Cabana a marvelous place where people who are too lazy too queue for ages to see Jared Leto speaking at the festival in real life, can relax on fake white leather couches and watch him on a large screen. They do this while drinking free Wunderman coffee, eating Wunderman almond croissants and drinking Wunderman San Pellegrino. When you leave you can take as many free Wunderman t-shirts as you like (which is awesome because they don’t have “Wunderman” blazed across the front, just cool designs).

So there I was watching Jared Leto, who was bloody magnificent. Of course he has won an Oscar, plays in a really successful rock band and has started up a few very successful digital businesses, so he’s basically the ultimate polymath. He could get together with Stephen Fry and rule the earth. He told us to “make my life interesting, tell me the truth or fucking leave me alone.” Exactly.

Jared Leto SelfieJared Leto was busy asking some young ladies up on stage for a starstruck selfie when my phone rang. It was my marginally overweight friend Damon Stapleton (The Zimbabwean guy). “Congrats buddy, Lucozade won the Grand Prix for radio.”

And so the day changed.

We had, of course, opened our account the evening before at the Outdoor Lions Ceremony.

Two Lions are coming home with us for our Volkswagen work.

There was some remarkable stuff on show.

Check out the Adidas D-Rose Jump Store from TBWA London for D-Rose shoes. Probably the best pop up store anyone will ever do, ever, ever. Astonishing.

The Dallas “Gas Station” for entertainment channel TNT was about as good an activation as you will ever see.

Grand Prix went to GAYTM out of TBWA Melbourne. If you want to see how to win a Cannes Grand Prix for a bank on a tiny budget, then check it out.

Mobile was on the same night. If there is one message being hammered home by all and sundry (apart from all the idiot-philosophy about “stories”) it’s that mobile is soon going to be the only game in town.

There was some really great work. “Pay per laugh” for Teatre Neu from McCann Barcelona was a brilliant use of smile recognition technology. “One minute of silence” for Anzac Appeal by DDB Melbourne brought the house down. The Mobile Grand Prix went to the Nivea’s phemomenal wrist band for Nivea Kids from FCB Sao Paulo.

The Media Lions gave us the world’s first all Lego ad break from PHD London for the Lego movie, one of my favourite pieces of the festival, being a father of 2 Lego obsessed little boys. Grand Prix went to a lovely little idea for Coke called Happy ID.

All of which takes us back to the Wunderman beach cabana and that phone call. The first thing to do was call the lovely Mariana O’Kelly, my colleague who, along with Neo Mashigo, has put her heart and soul into the creative rejuvenation of Ogilvy Johannesburg for the past year.

Leaving Mariana in a sobbing, happy heap on her hotel room floor, I grabbed a few free Wunderman t-shirts and headed out into the Cannes sun, which for all the world looked like it was shining happily out of my bottom.

Several blurry expeditions to buy t-shirts (Paul Smith ) and dresses (not for me for Mariana) later we found ourselves seated in the winners section for the evening’s award’s show.

Mariana had brought her 6 year old twins along, and her long-suffering advertising husband. She figured that if they had to endure a year of days and nights with their mama at the office making nice ads, they can be on the glory side of the experience too. It was a magnificent idea, although the presence of small children in the Palais was bewildering for some to say the least.

First up was Design, which for some reason always serves up a stunning display of pure and unadulterated beauty. The Japanese own Design like they own waving gold cats. The flat out fabulous sticky outy piece of the night was “Mother Book” for the Kishokai Medical Corporation from Dentsu. For something that you’ll wish South Africa had done first have a look at the “Paper Prison” for the Mandela Poster Project from Interbrand New York.

The Grand Prix for Press went to the wonderful “I spent it on myself” work for Harvey Nichols. It’s not often that work that’s part of a bigger (and really great) integrated campaign gets the big Lion. So, hats off to the Press Jury for being brave and pushing it through. Another standout Press Gold was the work for Rothammer Beer from Prolam Y&R Santiago, incredible photography, great idea, unique execution. Wish I’d done it (See images below just click to zoom).
Rothammer  PUNKS Rothammer BIKERS Rothammer DUCK HUNTERS
Cyber was up next. There are more Grand Prix in Cyber than any other category, mainly because of the diversity of work you’ll find there. This year there were 3.

First went to the “24 Hours of happy” for Pharrel Williams from Iconoclast Paris. Number 2 went to “The Scarecrow” for Chipotle – another genius use of animation coupled with a great interactive experience. This is next level stuff folks, watch and learn.

Volvo Trucks “Live Test Series” was the last digital Grand Prix. Enya boomed out across the Palais as the audience roared, Van Damme was in the house again, if only on the screen. Watch all of them. Be jealous.

And finally on to radio, by which time we were squirming in our seats enduring a delicate cocktail of anxiety and excitement.

There was loads to cheer about for South Africa, as we made up for our verlep performance earlier in the week.

The Bronzes, Silvers and the Golds all featured SA work.

There is always a fear, when you’re about to get up onstage at Cannes, that the reaction to the work from the hyper picky ad crowd is going to be tepid – that your big moment will be flattened out by a collective meh.

They played the work. We shifted our bottom to the edge of our red velvet seats.

I was sitting next to Ted Royer, ECD of Droga NYC. Ted roared with laughter. The audience erupted, they loved the spots and we walked up onto stage amidst whooping and cheers.

Mariana’s twins toddled up the stairs accepted the Grand Prix (and refused to let it go for some hours afterwards) and that pretty much brought the house down.

It was a big moment. It was the moment one of South Africa’s greatest agencies climbed up off the canvass and put on the big gold championship belt again.

Those 2 little boys holding up that Radio Grand Prix will be one of the great moments of this year’s festival, but very few people here know just how important it was to 500 or so people slogging away in Joburg.

Long may it last. It could not have happened to finer and more deserving bunch of people.
Ogilvy Johannesburg Radio Grand Prix

Mannes In Cannes: We give you flying cars. And crappy wifi.

Mannes in CannesWe are in full swing here on the Riviera now. Last night I bought a round of drinks that cost the same as a decent set of garden furniture, and I really need new garden furniture. Still, the post awards show analysis and bitching (and moaning about the South Americans) is such a vital part of Cannes. The first Grand Prix (I have no idea what the plural of Grand Prix is, I suspect it may be Grand Prix, if not, my apologies) of the week were collected last night.

After that the real show began with the Dutch Young Creatives party, or Jongehonden as it’s better known.

This is a terrifying blitzkrieg of techno, beer and spittle policed by a horde of young, tall, raucous, uninhibited and extremely drunk Dutch creative people. Some of my young creatives nursed themselves delicately through the door at 5am. They had video footage of this event. It looked for all the world like a Marine platoon pinned down in a fairly heavy and explosive firefight in Basra.

Way before all that there were a few seminars worth attending, at least that’s what it looked like.

SapientNitro SEMINAR Spike Jonze (Getty)Spike Jonze, the famous, famous director (did I mention he was famous) sat on stage talking to the not-famous-at-all CCO of Sapient Nitro, I have no idea what his name was.

Thing is, the not-so-famous Sapient Nitro guy was pretty keen for us to all know that he was hanging here in Cannes with his bro Spike, just shooting the breeze, chatting about John Malkovitch and stuff. He talked a lot. The really, really famous Spike Jones seemed somewhat bemused and really didn’t say that much at all.

Spike did mention a few commercials he “kind of liked” like “the one with all the balls that bounce down the steps” which was obviously Spike’s way of letting us know he was totally down with this advertising thing.

The discussion had all the flow of half dry cement.

We left while not-famous-at-all Sapient Nitro guy was expounding on his theory of “disruption” (which used to be TBWA’s theory but he must have got a good deal on it from Jean Marie Dru).

The organisers of the Festival need to watch that the seminars don’t become an endless array of celebrities who look vaguely uncomfortable with being there as their interviewer desperately tries to cling to a pompous sounding “theme”.

Themes are crap. Themes are for 21st birthday parties and shitty launches for fruit flavoured alcoholic drinks.

Just don’t.

Today Google rolled out their Chief Business Officer, Nikesh Arora, to tell us all how Google will be reorganizing and improving the planet for us. “It’s difficult to realize you’re in a revolution when you’re in the midst of it.” he told us. Google is, of course, manning the barricades of this revolution. It was spellbinding stuff.

“Aspire to serve the world.” he urged us, before promptly telling us just how quickly things are going to change. He left us in no doubt that mobile tech is going to be the only game in town. The film he showed of an Indian man finding his long-lost family through Google Earth and Streetview is breathtaking (see below)

He finished by talking about sending balloons up into the stratosphere to cast a wifi shadow over the entire earth, a project appropriately named “Loon”. Google is definitely going to win the internets.

Last night was the first of big ceremony of the week (the Health Lions were earlier in the week, but no-one really counts those, except the people who won Health Lions).

First up was Promo and Activation or “Brazilian ambient” as it is otherwise known. There was some cracking work. My pick for a Grand Prix or two, Sound of Honda, grabbed a Gold or 3. The biggest cheer of the night went to the Social Swipe – the world’s first poster that accepted credit cards. The Grand Prix went to the fabulous Harvey Nichols campaign “Sorry, I spent it on myself.” I suspect we may see a bit more of that one as the week goes by, it seems a real favourite.

There were a few good pieces in PR. “Sweetie” – the campaign to trap online sex offenders, picked up a PR Gold, plus 4 more. Watch it for an incredible example of how tech and creativity can get together and produce show-stopping work.

Some of the Direct work was outstanding too.

If you’re in the mood for some footie themed creativity (and who isn’t right now) then check out the brilliant work for Fifa14 out of Wunderman in Bogota. I was also a huge, huge fan of “Inglorious food.” for supermarket brand Intermarche by Marcel Paris.

And finally have a look at “Vroom, ring, boom.” a simply brilliant direct idea for Cellular brand Claro from Ogilvy Guatemala. Could easily have been the Grand Prix.

The Grand Prix, when it was hauled out, went to the one-of-a-kind brilliant BA billboard from Ogilvy London, also a multiple Gold winner on the night.

The themes are starting to take shape here, but themes are crap, so other people can try and box them for you somewhere else on the internet.

Lots of people are talking sagely about “storytelling” as if it’s the new Theory of Relativity. This masterful repackaging of the bleeding obvious as a mind-blowing new beachhead in creativity isn’t surprising.

This is advertising after all.

Mannes In Cannes: A world famous Belgian

Chris Gotz study-abroad-amsterdam-netherlands-art
I see tall people. I must still be in Holland. Yes, I see some cheese and a canal, and a bicycle, so Holland it is then.
As it turns out, I am not yet in Cannes, having been waylaid by a weekend break in the Dam.
Other people are in Cannes though. I know because I have seen their lunch on Facebook and Instagram, a Salad Nicoise shot with a carefully placed bottle of rose.
Holland is a marvellous place, full of incredibly tall and friendly people, seemingly unconcerned about their inexplicable ability to field even a remotely competitive basketball team. Of source they did field a pretty good football team a few days ago and they were jolly happy about that. I’ve never seen a whole city drunk before, all these tall blonde people tottering around resplendent in Orange rolling their vowels with extra delight.

In Cannes, as in the World Cup, the Brazilians expect to win. And they will, although the real hero of Cannes this year is likely to be a Belgian. Mr Jean Claude Van Damme will perform an Epic Split that spans all categories before reaching down and plucking up the film Grand Prix at the end of the week.

The Volvo Trucks piece is already coming up in the Direct and Promo Shortlists, as are all the other usual suspects : The sound of Honda from Dentsu, Sweetie – the astonishing Dutch piece designed to trap online porn offenders and the Harvey Nichols “Sorry, I spent it on myself” campaign to name a few. I know this because I saw it online yesterday while I was walking around Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, clocking three hundred years worth of gloomy looking men in ruffled collars and multiple flat and well-windmilled landscapes bathed in the famous “Dutch light”.

By the way, Belgium, Mr Van Dammes home country, are a good to moderate outside bet for the World Cup. Although Belgium winning the World Cup would be a bit like an agency from Swaziland winning the Film Grand Prix.
DavidI missed David Hasselhof yesterday who took the stage in the first seminar to talk about, well, David Hasselhof I suppose. I wonder what it’s like being a live meme? Never mind, I can ask Jean Claude Van Damme, who is sure to come on stage and do the splits on the heads of two attractive promo girls while he accepts the film Grand Prix for the people at Forsman Bodenfors, who by then will be in a rose induced catatonic stupor after winning everything all week.

The South African work is still a light sprinkle as far as Shortlists are concerned. Expect that to change today as a whole bunch of Shortlists come striding confidently in their Velskoens into the  Palais.
The weather in Cannes is not playing ball at all. This will not make a difference to the many, many people who decide to give most of the festival a miss and watch the World Cup in Morrison’s. It will bother the people who have decided to give most of the festival a miss and spend their time on the beach though. It may mean actually going to seminars and looking at some work, although. as we know, most ECD’s know pretty much everything anyway.
The weather looks to be grubby all week, unless a magnanimous Russian billionaire decides to usher the clouds away with a squadron of well-placed helicopters.
I am now on a KLM flight which will be slicing across France and depositing me in Nice. From there it’s a short bus ride to Cannes, unless I decide to take a helicopter, although they might be busy chasing away the clouds from Roman Abromovitch’s yacht. Also – a chit for a helicopter shuttle might upset the chaps with sharp pencils who refer to people as “resource” and are even now finding evil ways to dent our awards budgets.
So a bus it will be, and then on to my inexpensive and spartan apartment (take note sharp pencil men) where I will dine on fig LU biscuits and get this post up on the interwebs before my CEO can say “he’s supposed to be in Cannes, what the bloody hell is he doing in Amsterdam?!?”.

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The Official Unofficial Cannes Predictions 2014.

Cannes Lions 2014

The film festival is over. The porn film festival is over. Which means the beleaguered residents of Cannes can get ready for the ad festival.

Surely the ad festival should come before the porn festival ? Pun intended.

I wonder if the ECD’s of the world’s best agencies realise that they are unpacking their Tumi luggage in a room previously occupied by people who fling around body fluids with the abandon of, well, porn stars at a convention.

David Hasselhof, who strangely enough has never been filmed having sex, will open this year’s festival. He will be the first in a long line of seemingly irrelevant celebrities lending their name to client and agency sponsored seminars.

The Hof will be talking about “Remaining relevant”, which is something he is clearly struggling to do considering he’s now speaking at a weird French ad festival.

OK, here we go, the one, the only, Official Unofficial Cannes Predictions for 2014.

1/ 2014 is a World Cup Year. This means, despite spending thousands of agency euro’s travelling halfway across the earth, most ECD’s won’t attend Cannes. They will instead watch football in Morrison’s, the Irish bar opposite the Palais du Festivals. They will, however, occasionally toddle across the road to the Palais and wander around the Shortlist exhibitions, but only so they can tell people at half time how “crap the work is this year”.

2/ Those people not interested in the Football World Cup (The 3 female ECD’s in the world, conscientious Japanese ad people) will be able to watch some cracking talks. Aaron Sorkin, the best TV writer of all time, will chat about storytelling. Jeffrey Katzenberg, the Dreamworks guy, will be hosted by Youtube in their seminar. Sarah Jessica Parker will talk in a ditzy, nasal, Californian accent about “Fashion, Sex and Celebrity”. Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook will make us all feel dumb and like we haven’t achieved nearly enough and make us all lean slightly forward for the rest of the week.

3/ The best work will, very early in the week, begin to win everything. “The sound of Honda”, the magnificent, haunting audio recreation of Ayrton Senna’s record breaking lap in the 1989 Grand Prix at Suzuka, will be the big winner for the first half of the week. I see no reason why it won’t win Grand Prix in Outdoor, Direct, Promo and Activation and maybe even PR. The rest of the week will see the equally brilliant “Epic Splits” work for Volvo Trucks, featuring Jean Claude Van Damme, winning everything in sight. It will win the Film Grand Prix going away, probably Cyber too. I predict confidently that the 2014 Cannes Lions Festival will end with Jean Claude himself holding the Film Grand Prix aloft in the Palais. You read it here.

4/ Most people will take Thursday off. This is because Thursday is officially designated “Brazil Day” at the Festival. The program appears to consist largely of Brazilians talking about themselves and how wonderful they are. This is of course exactly what Brazilians do all the time, so nothing to see there then.

5/ This year’s hotly contested new category, the “Innovation Lions”, will be wildly celebrated. This new category is for agencies who actually manage to “make something”, like, a product or a gizmo or an App or a print ad that turns into a library and solves illiteracy in Africa. Quite why we need this category is beyond me, considering that right now agencies are struggling to make the stuff they’re actually meant to make – commercials, money – stuff like that.

6/ Your ECD will return from Cannes bleary-eyed with stories he gathered from buddies of his who were on the juries. The general gist will be “we got fucked over” by the Brazilian/Ukranian/Austrailan/UK judge.

You will ask him questions about some of the talks, the standard answer will be that he “didn’t go to that one”. He may also remark that Cannes is “actually quite hard work” because there are “lots of meetings and clients and global stuff” happening. This statement is made despite the evidence of photos on Facebook of him photobombing Droga at the Gutter bar, getting drunk during the day on a boat with Swedish people, and eating large platters of seafood with recruiters from Dubai. He will then say something about how it would be great “to send more people next year”. This will never ever happen.

So there we have it. You hardly have to go do you ? Cannes can come to you, especially if you hop straight from these predictions to the regular, soon-to-be-published sardonic updates from our “Mannes in Cannes.”

Best of luck to all the SA contenders this year, I hope we surprise ourselves again and do OK. I’m afraid the notion that South Africa “punches above its weight” at Cannes is just not true anymore. It’s become very, very difficult to win, despite the categories multiplying faster than Viagra crazed rabbits.

Votre mère sent baies de sureau.

Au revoir.

Mannes in Cannes: Rosé and Rumours

Cannes Lions

Words by Monsieur Chris Gotz

Occasionally the week in Cannes offers up little unexpected moments of pleasure. A spin in a pistachio Lamborghini, a drink at the Martinez with Roger Moore, sunbathing on the deck of Paul Allen’s yacht or dinner with Brad and Angelina at Tétou, a restaurant in Antibes, where the lobster will set you back 200 Euros. None of these things happened to me, not even close.Colombe d' Or However I did go to the famous Colombe d’ Or, in the small hilltop town of Saint-Paul de Vence. The restaurant is famous not for its food, but its art collection. The walls are adorned with Miró, Picassos, a Matisse or 2 and many more. A beautiful Calder sculpture looms over the pool. It’s a bit like eating a rack of lamb in one of the courtyards of the Louvre, just without the Japanese tourists and large groups of pensioners from Wisconsin hanging around.

In the taxi on the way home one of my colleagues received a text on his phone. Someone, somewhere had heard someone else say that, possibly, they had heard a mention that one of the judges in Branded Content and Entertainment had told someone, who had told somebody else, that we might get a Lion. This was possibly, maybe, perhaps good news. Cannes is fuelled by Rosé and rumours. Many hopes have foundered on the faint fumes of hope wafting up from the judging rooms in the basement of the Palais. And so began the most anxious 15 hours of the Festival.

My colleague Nicholas Wittenberg wore a yarmulke for much of the following morning. He is not a devout man, but, like Yahoo, we needed all the help we could get. I just watched my phone, which remained as silent and insolent as a French waiter. Finally the call came, and the news that our last chance saloon finalists had both won Lions, and one of them was Gold. Cue Tiger Woods fist pumps and neck hugs and shouty calls to the people who actually did the work in Cape Town. The rest of the day passed in a blissful fug of tense elation.

The best thing about winning Gold on the last night is that you don’t have to queue to get in. You just waltz in through a side entrance like Patricia de Lille at the Baxter Theatre.The last night at Cannes is the Film, Film Craft, Branded Content and Entertainment and Integrated ceremony.

First up was Film Craft. If you watch anything from the Festival this year, watch the Craft Grand Prix – the “Superhumans” spot for the Paralympics by Channel 4, for Channel 4. It is nothing short of a masterpiece. For the first time in my 6 years of going to Cannes there was a standing ovation for a piece of work, and the film truly deserved it.

The Film Lions were up next. Lots of expected contenders in the mix there. The brilliant Southern Comfort ad “Whatever’s Comfortable” out of Wieden and Kennedy got big cheers. If you want to watch a brilliant insight based idea then look at the “Camera Shy” Dove film from Ogilvy London that won Gold. The Grand Prix went to 2 films, Sir John Hegarty making the point that the film Jury felt the need to reward both long and short form films.

Dumb Ways to Die picked up an unprecedented 4th Grand Prix, this time for Film, probably well deserved for a commercial that has been seen by 500 million online, made the charts in 10 countries and got played for free by most commercial broadcasters. It is probably the “stickiest” advertising work for many a year. Pereira & O ‘Dell San Francisco won a Grand Prix (a second one this week) for the totally brilliant film “The beauty inside” which featured Hollywood semi-star Topher Grace (who was there to pick up the award with the agency).Take a look at it, it involves the audience in a way no other content piece has ever done before.

It will be one of the great Film reels this year, so I would look at as much of the work online as I could if I were you. They’ll take it all down in a month or so.

In Branded Content and Entertainment the wonderful IBM “World’s Smallest Film” from Ogilvy New York finally picked up Gold after flirting with Silver and Bronze all week. Well deserved, considering they moved atoms around and magnified them 100 million times just so we could Cannes Goldsee the piece. Check out the “Deforested field” from Grey 141 in Sao Paulo for the WWF for a smart live programming intervention. The Grand Prix went, once again to “The beauty inside” for Intel. Somewhere amongst all of those we skipped onto stage to collect our Gold Lion. It was kind of cool to remind ourselves later that we had the rare privilege of winning a Gold Lion with Dan Wieden, Sir John Hegarty, George Lois, Lee Clow and David Droga in the audience. Hope they liked the work.

Integrated and Titanium Jury President Dan Wieden handed out the Lions in this category. He must be one of the wisest, most lovely men in all of advertising and his stories have beguiled us for decades. The Samsung “Bridge of Life” by Cheil Worldwide was the pick of the bunch. The Grand Prix for Integrated went, predictably and well deservedly, to Dumb Ways to Die, which, thumbing its nose at the notion of a history making 4th Grand Prix, went on and claimed a 5th just for good measure. I would love to be a fly on the wall in that office on Tuesday when they all get back to work. What now guys? Perhaps just do some strip ads for a boring investment services client just to get your feet back on the ground.

The Titanium Grand Prix is the Grand Finale of Cannes, and it went to, for me, the standout piece of work at the festival. No, not Dumb Ways to Die, rather the Dove “Real Beauty Sketches” from Ogilvy Brazil. In a wonderful touch, the women who were sketched in the piece were flown over to collect the Grand Prix. It brought the house down, and there was an unprecedented second standing ovation of the night. All that was left after that was for Ogilvy Brazil to collect the overall agency of the Year, probably by a country mile after winning 35 Lions.

Now, finally, on to Nice airport, a Gold Lion heavier than when we arrived, which is a most pleasing way to leave the South of France in June. It’s been a good year for “the work” I think.

You could certainly feel the velocity of the changes hitting the industry very strongly in Cannes this year. They are changes that will not be solved by the repeated use of the word” content” and “platform”, nor will they be met with the overblown promises of “big data” or the platoons of people who now call themselves “social media strategists”. We may live in the golden age of bullshit, but we also live in the golden age of opportunity. The challenges and great changes that face our industry will be overcome by the same thing that always saves our bacon : brilliant creative work.

As George Lois said, “We aren’t in the technology business we are in the fu*king creativity business”.

Well said George.

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George Lois