12 July 2011

Cannes Advertising Lions 2011

Here's the Grand Prix winner from this year's Cannes Advertising Lions.

It's the Avatar of the past year in advertising.  Nothing comes close for size, scope, ambition, or (here's an educated guess) budget.

I cite James Camerons' Avatar because it was, like his previous epic Titanic, so anticipated, so ballyhooed, and so saturated popular media, Cameron effectively challenged Hollywood's chew-'em-up-and-spit-'em-out film industry not to award him the Best Picture Oscar.

They obliged.  The Oscar went to Cameron's ex-flame Kathryn Bigalow for Hurt Locker.

No such showdown occurred this year at Cannes, where biggest, this year, was best.  Nike's Write the Future. by Weiden & Kennedy's Netherlands office, combines the who's who of world football with an unrestrained string of fantasies, to the 80's guitar anthem Hocus Pocus.

Clever, yes, though it seems to heave beneath the weight of its own ambition.  Or, to switch metaphors, just because you're cooking with the world's most expensive, most exotic ingredients, from Kobe beef, truffles, and foie gras to beluga caviar and saffron, doesn't mean they'll combine to make the world's best stew.

As with Avatar, the hype surrounding Nike's Write the Future feels pushed and self-generated in contrast to the organic, crowd-pleasing buzz around VW's Super Bowl gem, Force, written by David Povill of Deutsch Inc. of Los Angeles, and directed by Lance Acord, whose cinematography credits include Where the Wild Things Are, Lost in Translation, and Being John Malcovich.

Force was among the handful celebrated with a Gold Lion.

It's a grand thing to celebrate great work.  Especially in advertising, where such a small proportion of the work is good.  And a small proportion of that is outstanding.

But her, as with all arts awards, where there are so few tangible criteria for comparison, the peril lies in declaring this better than that.

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