21 July 2011

Cannes Strips Controversial Brazillian Ad of Two Lions

Funny thing happened on the way down from the Cannes Lions podium last month.

Our story surrounds a contentious print ad for KIA's duel-zone climate control feature, from an ad outfit called Moma Propaganda of Brazil.

Upon winning a Silver Lion for print, and a Bronze Lion for Outdoor, the ad was quickly condemned by critics as 'The Pedophile Ad.'

KIA USA issued a nervous, if qualified, response, insisting that this ad would never run in the United States.  In an operation that big, it's hard to know if any branch of the company might have employed the Brazilian agency.  

This is the moment I imagine William Frawley in a 1940's screwball comedy, pinstripe vest open and cigar-in-mouth barking "Saaaaaay.  Something fishy's goin' on here."

And fishy it was.  Turns out that KIA has no relationship with the agency, and never commissioned, approved, or knew about the work.

It's not uncommon for agencies to fabricate ads based on in-house ideas to demonstrate wheat they can do.

And it's not uncommon (-shhhhh!-) for ad award entrants to sneak in entries- usually for their actual clients- for ads which, for some reason or other, never ran.  No, it's not cricket, but agencies are rarely caught.

In this case, KIA wanted nothing to do with the dark, graphic novel vibe of the Moma Propaganda ad.  Having some some digging, it announced shortly after the Cannes festival that it had never commissioned such an ad.  The agency was challenged by the Cannes brass to prove that it had ever run.  Evidently, they couldn't. So the agency was stripped of its trophies.  For good measure, all involved were forbidden to enter the Cannes competition until 2013.

"No Lions for you!  One year!"
A question lingers:  will Moma Propaganda- the disgraced Brazilian agency- be a net beneficiary of this exposure and publicity?

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.