Bronze beats Silver
Issue 60 | September 2021
In some ways, Cannes Lions is the ad industry's Olympics. It's competitive. Occasionally unedifying. And you see some weird as well as some wonderful performances.
Now just for a moment spare a thought for the poor sausages who won silver. Not for them the glory of gold.
No interviews on telly, no profiles in the local press.
As the old saw has it, no-one remembers who came second.
But, strangely enough, there does seem to be comfort in coming in third.
Psychologists from Cornell University have been studying the faces of Olympians when they're on the podium receiving their medals.
The bronze medallists are consistently happier-looking.
Win silver and you consider yourself unlucky not to have done that tiny bit better. You're disappointed. Win bronze and you thank your lucky stars you didn't come fourth. You're chuffed.
Hey, you're coming home with something.
And next time it could be gold.
It's revealing that The Caples Awards sell more bronze trophies than silver.
Bronze is validation in a way that silver isn't.
Looking at the Lions, many of the campaigns that were placed third are a lot more interesting than those placed second. Or even first.
We've selected 20 of them here because, regrettably, juries aren't often receptive to new ideas and Creative Directors don't always have great creative judgement.
(BMWFilms.com transformed advertising. It was branded content before branded content existed, the brainchild of the mighty David Lubars. Submitted to Cannes in 2001, 'The Hire' films won zilch. Nothing. The following year, Jeff Goodby persuaded Cannes to invent the Titanium category just so they could be properly recognised.)
With this in mind, take a look at 'VB Solar' (page 19). Co-branding isn't new but brands collaborating in this sort of barter exchange is. Install solar panels to get cheap beer is such an intriguing proposition.
When it comes to 'purpose', the brands making themselves useful also seem to be the brands making themselves valuable. See Three Ireland's 'Connected Island' (on page 17) and ITAÙ Bank, who created a completely new public service to get pensioners their pension money safely (page 10).
But in among the bronzes is also where you see the old competitors, who simply won't give up. Pole vaulter Holly Bradshaw competed at nine major world championships being placed anywhere but first, second or third.
Until the Olympics when she won bronze and was ecstatic.
In the parallel universe of Cannes, look at Saatchi & Saatchi London's campaign of sponsorship idents for Direct Line (page 24). Sponsorship idents? How uncool are they? How very old school. But, in this instance, very funny. And thank you, thank you Direct Line for the laughs because in all the Grands Prix and in all the Golds there isn't so much as a single chuckle.
Too much bloody purpose.
Also missing from the Direct winners this year is Direct Mail. Except tucked away among the bronzes there are a couple of mail-y ideas. Cheil Seoul's 'Hope Tape' (page 26) turns packages into media to help find missing children while BETC Paris has found a way to recycle clothes through the post (page 23).
Proof that this strangely unloved channel still has plenty of room for innovation.
One last criterion for the 20 campaigns on the following pages. Results.
'We set a new industry standard', 'the campaign became an organic trending topic', 'people from China to Paraguay, from all walks of life, were talking about this crazy idea' – this is bollocks.
The chosen work offers more than just the blah-blah of 'media impressions' or 'earned media value'. And can be admired for that alone.
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