Cannes 2011: Final Winners and Post-Festival Thoughts

This year’s Cannes ad festival drew to a close on Saturday evening, with Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam picking up the coveted Film Grand Prix for its epic Write The Future spot for Nike.

This year’s Cannes ad festival drew to a close on Saturday evening, with Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam picking up the coveted Film Grand Prix for its epic Write The Future spot for Nike.

The other big winner on the night was Droga5 in New York, which picked up the Integrated Grand Prix for its Decode project for Jay-Z and Bing (also awarded the Outdoor Grand Prix earlier in the week; a case study video on the campaign is here, and subscribers can read CR’s article on it here). The agency also collected the Film Craft Grand Prix for its Puma After Hours Athlete spot (above), directed by Rattling Stick’s Ringan Ledwidge. There was no Titanium Grand Prix awarded this year, perhaps a testament to the confusion that continues to surround this category.

The Grand Prix For Good, a new award category introduced last year that aims to celebrate charitable campaigns, was won this year by Leo Burnett Melbourne, for the campaign See The Person for Scope. A case study explaining the campaign is shown above.

This year saw the introduction of yet another new award category at Cannes Lions: the Creative Effectiveness Lions. This is in part a recognition of the increasing role that clients are playing at Cannes. As with last year, many of this year’s most glitzy seminars were hosted by clients: Kraft Foods brought Malcolm Gladwell, Robert Redford spoke with Yahoo!, and Time Warner presented a round-table with Piers Morgan, The Wire’s David Simon and Aaron Sorkin of The West Wing and The Social Network fame.

The Effectiveness jury is the first and only Cannes Lions jury to include clients, with this year’s line-up including marketers from Proctor & Gamble, Kraft Food, Philips and LG Electronics. They were judging campaigns that had either won or been shortlisted for last year’s Lions awards, which could demonstrate clear results from the campaign itself, rather than other promotional methods. The winner of the inaugural Grand Prix went to AMV BBDO for its Walkers Sandwich campaign, which attempted to turn the sleepy town of Sandwich in England into one of the most exciting places in Britain. A making-of film, above, shows how the campaign worked.

Aside from AMV BBDO’s win, it was a harsh year for the UK, though BBH founder Sir John Hegarty was awarded another inaugural gong, the Lion of St Mark’s trophy, which recognised Hegarty’s outstanding contribution to creativity in advertising. AlmapBBDO São Paulo took the ad agency of the year award; Wieden + Kennedy Portland the Independent Agency of the Year gong; and Smuggler USA the Palme d’Or, presented to the most awarded production company. The network of the year was BBDO, and this year Cannes Lions also honoured the holding company of the year, which was WPP.

As a general note, the amount of awards presented at Cannes Lions continues to be head-spinning. While this year’s Cannes rightly congratulated some excellent creative work, the repetition of many campaigns across multiple categories served to cause both confusion, and a sense that it was in fact rather a thin year, with not enough standout campaigns to truly fill out the many awards. The Cyber Awards in particular caused debate: most especially the viral category, which increasingly just acknowledges the presence of blockbuster film campaigns online.

Aside from this, the festival itself felt far more buzzy than in recent years, with many expressing the view that we were back to the heady days of ’08. It will be interesting to see if this proves to be a portent for the creative output of the industry too, and will be reflected on the awards podium in 2012.

All info on this year’s Cannes Lions winners is online at

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