Talking dogs that sound like Mike Skinner and crazy looking chimps who ride with fire-breathing boars. Our Editor-in-Chief, Michael Weinzettl, picks some of the unsung ads he thinks should win at this year's Cannes Lions festival.
Image: Wall's 'Alan the Dog'.
The Cannes Lions Festival is only a couple of weeks away and by now you surely must have come across at least half a dozen Cannes prediction lists. I am a bit bored by this practice since they tend to favour the usual suspects...
The Guardian’s “Three Little Pigs” by BBH, London, which we featured on our Facebook page the day after it was first screened on TV on 29 February, seems to be one of the major contenders for the Film Grand Prix, or “The Bear” for Canal + by BETC Euro RSCG, Paris, which won big in Film at this year’s D&AD (although that fact might just work against it being awarded the Film Grand Prix, since juries sometimes like to make a point of being original in picking something that has not already been showered with awards).
Which is why I thought to present to you a few commercials that I thought were very good but which might get somewhat neglected in the general Cannes prediction hype – similar to when film studios place the “For Your Consideration” ads in Variety, hoping to influence the members of the Academy.
Here, at any rate, are a few of those commercials from last year that in my opinion should not go without some kind of award:
First, there is the wonderful campaign for Wall’s Sausages by Saatchi & Saatchi, London which we featured as our Spot of the Week 2011/22. This has been a favourite of mine since it first came out in May of last year, which made it too late to qualify for Cannes 2011.
Wall's "Kitchen" by Saatchi & Saatchi, London and Rattling Stick.
It is, however, one that might have trouble crossing the Channel when it comes to its appreciation from international ad juries. It has nothing to do with the quality of the commercial but is more likely a cultural problem.
I’m speaking from experience: The Wall’s Sausages spots were submitted to the Epica Awards last year. The jury, of which I have been a member of since the early 90s, meets in Paris for five days in November every year. It consists solely of some 35 advertising journalists from all over Europe, who gave the Wall’s spots an incredibly low rating at first.
On the day the winners of the categories are selected at the Epicas, there is always a lively discussion about the merits of the ads nominated. Fortunately, every juror has a ‘wild card’, meaning that they can dig out one of the low-scoring commercials and have it re-evaluated by the group. (Not having a patriotic bone in my body, I’m always slightly dismayed at the number of commercials reintroduced simply because they’re from a particular juror’s own country.)
So when it came to displaying my wild card, I jumped at the opportunity to come to the defense of the Wall’s spots and to have them re-screened. For arguing its case as a brilliant piece of advertising for a rather lacklustre product I enlisted the help of my co-juror Gavin Lucas, Senior Writer at Creative Review, who being British, could provide a context for the ads much better than myself.
He told the jury about the commercial’s very British working-class type of appeal (the tiny bulldog raps in an urban British fashion à la Mike Skinner from The Streets). As it turned out, this ‘underdog’ of the initial voting by the jury came out at the very top after the ‘endorsement’ provided by Gavin and me. In fact, after having it re-voted, it became the winner in the Food category and won Gold.
Another commercial I hope will do well at Cannes this year is our Spot of the Week 2011/40, the Toyota Hilux “Tougher than you can imagine” spot from New Zealand (yes, also from Saatchi & Saatchi, Auckland this time, and no, I’m not getting paid by them to plug their work).
Toyota Hilux "Tougher than you can imagine" by Saatchi & Saatchi, Auckland.
In true post-modern fashion it manages to have its cake and eat it too, by featuring just about every SUV commercial cliché possible and making fun of the whole genre at the same time.
Finally, there is BBH, London’s “My Angel Girlfriend” (our Spot of the Week 2011/52) which should win something if only because of the clever way BBH has managed to develop the Fallen Angel theme for their Lynx ads as well as the sheer genius of picking this particular Linda Ronstadt song from the late 60s as its soundtrack.
Lynx Excite "My Angel Girlfriend" by BBH, London.
So much from me. What are some of the commercials you’d like to see up there on the Cannes winners list this year? Join the discussion on Facebook.