2016 Cannes Considered

The numbers

Issue 40 | September 2016

Cannes festival


judges handed out 1,215 Lions

Outdoor was the most popular category with 5,365 entries

Print was down from last year to 3,775.

Film had 2,801 entries and Film Craft 2,315.

entries into traditional media categories.

By contrast, Cyber, Digital Crafts and Mobile together had 5,295 submissions.

Most early-bird entries cost €499, late entries €604.

Submissions to the Titanium category cost €1,399 if you were on time, €1,504 if you weren't.

Integrated campaigns cost €1,315 to enter, Creative Effectiveness €1,315.

Film cost €699 and Film Craft €649.

Between them, agencies spent in excess of €23.5 million in pursuit of a Lion.

J. Walter Thompson, Amsterdam spent over €30,000 entering "The Next Rembrandt" in no fewer than sixty different categories and sub-categories. But since winning a Gold Lion is now said to be worth €1m in terms of PR, increased business and increased attractiveness to talent, the agency will think the investment worth every cent since they picked up 3 Golds, 7 Silvers and 5 Bronzes.

people attended the festival.

The winners

These are the Directory Big Won rankings of the festival, tiered points scored for Gold, Silver, Bronze and Shortlist nominations.

  1. David, Buenos Aires
    Manboobs for Movimiento Ayuda Cáncer de Mama.
    69 points
  2. J. Walter Thompson, Amsterdam
    The Next Rembrandt ING/Microsoft.
    67 points
  3. McCann New York
    Field Trip To Mars Lockheed Martin.
    65 points
  4. Y&R, Auckland
    McWhopper Burger King.
    64 points
  5. Leo Burnett, Chicago
    Van Gogh's Bedroom, Art Institute of Chicago.
    54 points
  6. Ingo, Stockholm
    Call Sweden Swedish Tourist Association.
    53 points
  7. Colenso BBDO, Auckland
    Brewtroleum DB Breweries, New Zealand.
    47 points
  8. Venables, Bell & Partners
    #OptOutside REI.
    46 points
  9. Ogilvy & Mather, London
    The Breathless Choir for Philips.
    44 points
  10. BBH New York.
    "House of Cards - FU". Netflix
    36 points.

So, what do we learn from the big winners?

Frankly, not a lot.

They certainly don't reflect what most of the conversations of the week were about.

But they are an interesting spread for all that.

Three genuinely big social ideas in "McWhopper", "The Swedish Number" and "OptOutside".

A big campaign idea in "Brewtroleum".

A couple of experiences in "Field Trip to Mars" and "Van Gogh's Bed".

And a TV commercial.

The Netflix "House of Cards – FU" ad was a genius bit of media planning. In the middle of the biggest presidential debate for four years, Netflix ran an ad starring "House of Cards" bad egg Frank Underwood in a perfect parody of a political ad.

"It's a new day in America. Today more people will go to work, return to their families, and sleep more soundly than ever before. All because one man puts people before politics..."

Glorious bollocks.

And proof, by the way, that TV is not dead and buried by any stretch and is still the medium that delivers those water-cooler moments marketers dream of.

But, by way of contrast, if you're a creative, "Manboobs" is heartening.

It's cheap as chips, it was made for video and it won 10 Golds.

An afternoon's work as opposed to the incredible attention to detail across every imaginable touchpoint of the Burger King "McWhopper" work.

Two of the winners were triumphs of technology.

While most people involved in any way with digital media think "The Next Rembrandt" is a tour de force and a brilliant signpost to the future of data and creativity, The Guardian had this to say.

"This is a horrible, tasteless, insensitive and soulless travesty of all that is creative in human nature."

And if you stop and detach yourself from the neurotic demand for innovation in our industry right now, you'd probably agree.

As for "Field Trip To Mars", it's interesting.

But a few hundred kids at most rode on the bus and imagined driving around another planet.

The video has had no more than 60,000 views on YouTube.

There was some PR but this is an idea that was given all its gongs on the basis that one-day VR encounters will be everyday experiences for everyone.

Aren't we kidding ourselves?

Our headlong flight to the future is one of the big themes of Cannes this year and I'll talk about it in a moment.

Does direct exist any longer?

Ten years ago, Directory came into being to celebrate the very best of direct marketing.

At the time, direct was despised.

The aristocracy of advertising created TV campaigns.

The middle classes created websites and digital experiences.

The plebs produced work that had to be measured in hard numbers. Not clicks and likes and shares but in sales, bottom-line moolah.

They were the saddos who did folding stuff and ads with coupons, ha ha ha.

Even then, though, the category was already melting into a bigger puddle of advertising.

Anything that gets people to do something is direct these days.

So, let's have a quick look at the Direct Golds, paying particular attention to the results.

Grey, New York. "#Daddo" for Pantene.
1.68 billion media impressions. Millions of hours of dad-daughter time.

Venables, Bell & Partners. "#OptOutside" for REI.
6.7 billion media impressions. 1.4 million people chose to spend Black Friday differently.

Marcel Paris. "The Sugar Detox" for Intermarché.
The product sold out almost immediately. In-store traffic increased by 30%.

David, Buenos Aires. "Manboobs" for MACMA.
40 million views. 700,000 shares. The most viewed and shared breast selfexamination video ever. Started a debate around censorship and cancer.

McCann, London. "The Survival Billboard" for Microsoft X-Box Tomb Raider.
8 minutes average dwell-time. 11,000 concurrent viewers for 22 hours straight. 3.5 million views and 32,000 comments.

R/GA Los Angeles. "Straight Outta" for Beats by Dre.
10.8 million visits. 6.8 million unique visitors. 7.9 million downloads. 686,000 shares.

Colenso BBDO, Auckland. "Brewtroleum" for DB Breweries.
In a beer market declining at a rate of 6%, sales increased by an unprecedented 10% making DB Export the fastest-growing beer brand. (Oh my goodness! The word 'sales' is in there!)

Fred&Farid, Paris. "Ma Place Est Dans La Salle" for Prodiss Entertainment.
+150 shows changed their posters. 171 Twitter impressions. +200 artists joined the movement. #1 trending topic.

Leo Burnett, Chicago. "Van Gogh's Bedroom" for Chicago Art Institute.
All nights in the room sold out within minutes. Exhibition online ticket pre-sales were up 250%. More than 200,000 people attended.

Y&R, Auckland. "McWhopper" for Burger King.
8.9 billion media impressions and counting. +40% increase in Peace Day awareness. +25% in Burger King purchase consideration. +48% likelihood to recommend the Burger King brand.

As I said, Direct has changed massively as a category.

Metrics are a lot softer but it has given the category new breadth and energy.

Of all the Gold Lions handed out, almost all were for brand building ideas rather than for driving sales.

I'm not saying that's good or bad.

It's just change.

New for 2016

Cannes is not one festival any longer. It's four.

There is the advertising festival, of course. But there is also a Health and Pharma festival and the Innovations Lions.

This year saw the arrival of Lions Entertainment, incorporating the new Lions for Music awards. These were held in a secondary location, a conference centre hidden behind the Palais.

Branded content, it seems, has its own space.

And its own stars.

Where Will Smith, Usher, Iggy Pop and Gwyneth Paltrow were the big draws to the main stage, around the back we had John Cena, introduced as a WWE Superstar, Channing Tatum and the towering legend that is Martin Johnson, former captain of the England world cup winning rugby team.

More to talk about, more awards...more people.

Cannes coyly suggests "around 15,000" people were in town for the week.

Chief among the absentees was Yahoo.

In previous years, there have been large splashes of purple on the Croisette. Not in 2016 as the business scales back.

In its place, though, large splashes of yellow. Where Evan Spiegel was able to wander around freely a year ago, this time around he had a squad of flunkeys in attendance.

Cannes is well used to swaggering egos.

If there is an Arse of the Year Award, the 2016 winner was Will Smith. The PR agency Edelman had coaxed him across the Atlantic to talk about "The Pursuit of Impact".

He demanded that every photographer leave the press room before he walked through it to conduct an interview.

Mind you, a couple of years ago, Bill Clinton had all the roads closed so his cavalcade could make its way to the Palais without the vexation of other traffic.

Google's Grand Prix x 3

Google opted for a lower profile. Partly because of the terribly sad death of James Howard in 2015, run over by a taxi. Partly because there was a feeling that too much of a presence might not be altogether good for the brand.

That said, the YouTube beach still attracted up to 3,000 visitors a day. And Google teams picked up no fewer than three Grand Prix.

The Innovations Grand Prix went to DeepMind for "AlphaGo". The Design Grand Prix went to Google Labs with "Project Jacquard". And the Mobile Grand Prix went to a collective of The New York Times, their in-house design group,T Brand Studio, Vrse.

Works and Google for the New York Times VR app.

For me, what is notable about these three awards is that they all anticipate the future.

Historically the big prizes at Cannes were retrospective.

They honoured the best work of the year just gone. Now what we see are awards that are predictive, awards that prepare the ground for great work yet to happen.

Take "AlphaGo". That was a prize for the potential of AI.

"Jacquard" is a Lion in expectation of amazing things yet to happen in terms of the connectedworld. And "NYT VR" is an award that foreseesamazing developments in 360° video.

Indeed, those were the big topics of discussion all week, both on the stages and in the meeting rooms and bars.

AI. VR. Data. Collaboration. Each of those is a wind of change in its own right. And no-one really knows where we'll get blown to. Eric Schmidt was in Cannes to calm our fears about a future in which computers can out-think humans.

It didn't work. At PHD's session, "Will A Robot Win A Lion?", the majority of the audience thought it all too likely.

It turns out McCann Japan has already got an AI creative director installed. And services like SquareSpaceand Wix are making designers redundant.

Film makers may as well give up too since AI is taking over both the scripting and the making of movies.

"Sunspring" is a short sci-fi film written by an artificial intelligence which named itself Benjamin.

Thankfully, the script is drivel. Weird drivel,admittedly, but drivel all the same.

Yay! A bit like Microsoft's self-learning bot called Tay, which rapidly learned how to be racist, fascist and offensive just by listening to social media for a couple of weeks.

Still, Saatchi & Saatchi's New Directors Showcase presented "Eclipse", a film created by AI, andwhile it wasn't sensational, it was watchable.

So, watch out. Neural networks reallycould be out to get you.

The other big big topicWherever you turned in Cannes, there were VR demos. Andstart ups looking for funding in this booming new area.

For me, Google's seminar "Adventures in Virtual Reality" was an eye-opener with film-maker Jessica Brillhart explaining that VR is not film-making. Where a film-maker is always framing what she wants the viewer to see, the creator of VR experiences has to design an entire world.

How do you create a new and entirely separate reality?

Those that come up with interesting and satisfyinganswers are set to make themselves a lot of money.

Digi-Capital has forecast VR will be worth $30billion by 2020. If you think that's a bulky sort of number, AR is set to be worth $120 billion.

No wonder there was a lot of talk about it.

Especially since the New York Times looked as if it might be showing the world's print industry a way out of the doldrums with its "NYT VR" campaign.

They mailed out over a million Google Cardboards to their subscribers, turning the newspaper into a complete experience.

Part of that experience was "The Displaced", a story in VR of three children from Syria, Ukraine and Sudan whose lives have been turned upside down by their flight from war.

In 2015 Google Cardboard won the Mobile Grand Prix. In 2016, how to use it won the same prize.

And where, surprisingly, Google's ATAP team won bugger all in 2015 with Spotlight Stories, this year they got their just rewards when "Help" was given Gold.

It can't be long before VR is a categoryat Cannes in its own right.

In the meantime, we're looking forward to being sent loads of great VR and AR in the coming months. Hey, and you never know – it could even be work that has a clear commercial purpose, to grow a brand and drive sales.


Okay, so maybe collaboration wasn't a word on everyone's lips but it is the new glue that sticks complicated campaigns together.

Witness the New York Times idea, where MINI, GE and Google were all involved in helping thepaper's in-house team make the idea happen.

Elsewhere across the awards there were plenty of other instances of multiple agencies having their names on the Lions.

Take Samsung's "Brainband" idea, led by Leo Burnett Sydney but involving Google, Edelman, We Love Jam, The Poo Collective and Starcom as well.

#OptOutside started life with Venables, Bell & Partners but was scaled up by Edelman and Spark/Mediavest.

And so on and so on.

Agencies are working increasingly closely with media owners – and with each other. There has been plenty of noise about back to the future, creative and media teams working together as one again.

Making the world a better place

Excuse me if I turn to a topic I have talked about before, the whole business of advertising for good.

A year ago I began fulminating about how Cannes was forgetting about ideas that actually sold stuff.

This year I was not alone in calling time on all the do-goodery.

50% of the PR Lions went to cause-related campaigns.

Enough already! This is simply a manifestation of the advertising industry's self-loathing. Most of us are so apologetic about what we do that when we get to see how our skills can be used for some higher purpose, we lose sight of purpose altogether.

Brands have done more in themselves to make the world a better place than almost any ad campaign.

Good products helpfully priced have done more to increase life expectancy and improve living conditions than any agency initiative, many of which have been cynical in ambition and sketchy in execution.

Ironically, "The Ice Bucket Challenge", which raised more than $115m in a month for research into ALS, was created by two families rather than any client/agency.

We should be proud of what we do. We must not beashamed of selling soap. Or groceries. Or shoes.Directory's mission is to blow a trumpet forcreative people in both marketing departmentsand their agencies, who, in creating productspeople want to buy create choice for them.Toot toot.


While most of what was on show at Cannes Lions 2016 was exemplary, Cannes wouldn't be Cannes without the annual lapses of taste and discretion.

Grey for Good Singapore were forced to withdraw their "I Sea" app for MOAN when it turned out (a) not to work and (b) had been withdrawn from the iStore by Apple and (c) had never had a client actively involved.

They managed to hand back their Bronzewith astonishingly bad grace.

AlmapBBDO were asked to withdraw an ad for Aspirina by their own worldwide chief creative officer, David Lubars.

This was my favourite tweet about this crass piece of press advertising:" In case you were wondering if the world of advertising awards is still capable of being tone deaf, the answer is yes. Suggesting a man will film sex without a woman's consent – a new low for the ad industry."

Elsewhere in the festival, Nivea gave us a crapping Seagull. Which in turn gave us a spitting Sir John Hegarty. At the Titanium and Integrated Awards press conference he called Jung von Matt's idea "the most stupid thing I think I have seen in my whole life."

And who can argue with him? A seagull that shits sunblock as it flies over kids on the beach? Really?"

But the biggest WTF of the week was the Brexit vote.

No-one saw it coming. On Wednesday, Sir Martin Sorrell pronounced a remain vote. Most Brits thought it would be close but that reason would prevail.

It didn't.

It dominated all the talk in all the bars and cafes on Friday and Saturday. Real life intruded on the bubble.

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