Cannes Rejects

Patrick Collister

Issue 36 | September 2015

Pablo Alzugaray, CEO of Shackleton, once told me, "You have to enter as many categories as possible at Cannes. What you are doing is buying a different jury". Two years ago, when I was one of the team involved in Cheil London's "David Bailey" campaign for Samsung's new NX cameras, I persuaded the agency to enter it in PR as well as the other obvious categories – Direct, Promo, Cyber.

Lucky I did, as that's where it won its one and only Gold. It is amazing how juries can differ when looking at the same piece of work. This year, the Direct jury thought the Volvo "Interception" idea from Grey New York was so strong they gave it the Grand Prix.

The Media jury thought it was so weak, they gave it nothing. The two juries had very different criteria of judgement. For the Direct folks it was about gut instinct and the 'wish I'd done it' factor.

For the media people, the numbers were important. The 50,000 tweets generated in response to "Interception" was reckoned to be threadbare. Most of the category submissions now ask for results and most juries are directed to consider the numbers as well as the ideas.

For goodness sake

Few really do because what takes over each jury are hidden criteria, unspoken principles about what constitutes great advertising. For instance, most noticeable this year was almost every jury's desire to reward 'goodvertising', ads that sought to change behaviours for the better. Seven out of the ten Golds in Media went to NGOs like States United To Prevent Gun Violence and The ALS Association or brands trying to do the right thing like P&G's #likeagirl and Vodafone Turkey's "Red Light App". Don't get me wrong, these were all great pieces of work. But there were precious few Lions for work that unashamedly sold stuff. In Issue 35, several creative directors picked out DDB Melbourne's "Radiant Return" as a likely winner. And it did win. A couple of Bronzes when the agency would have been hoping for a couple of Golds at least. Jurors want to reward the work that makes them feel good about the industry, about themselves. Without even discussing it, a secret antipathy to the brands that support us day in, day out can begin to seep like a gas through the jury room.

I've been there.

I've heard the sort of things people say.


And what they might have been saying about the 25 campaigns we are showcasing here, the ideas that Cannes forgot, could easily have been:

"Snickers. Aren't we getting fed up with this whole 'when you're hungry' thing?"

"IKEA's "Other Letter" campaign. Gimme a break, it's just another 'experiment'."

"The AXA Ingress thing looks interesting but, er...I just don't understand it."

"Colgate's "Hidden Sugar" till receipts just look like scam." And so on.

Okay, I'm being unfair. Most jurors genuinely believe they are rewarding the best work they see. But often great ideas can slip through the net.

For instance, it is alleged that M&C Saatchi's "Clever Buoy" idea for Optus was submitted in 2014. It won nothing.

So they entered it again in 2015, clever chaps, and hey presto! A Titanium Lion, three Golds, two Silvers, a Bronze and an Innovation Lion.

25 stories of disappointment and pain

On the next 25 pages are 25 campaigns which did not do well at Cannes 2015 but which we believe deserve merit.

And we pay respect to the creative people behind them, almost all of whom will have gritted their teeth and turned back to their desks thinking, "Right, you b******s, next year...."

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