If one thing was evident from the week’s Grand Prix winners at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity is that the already blurry lines between categories of advertising are becoming less and less relevant. When the jury for the Titanium and Integrated Lions (the category that recognizes “non-traditional” ideas) announced that Nike+ FuelBand (which won the Cyber Grand Prix earlier in the week) was top of the heap, and then when juries for both the Film Lions and Branded Content & Entertainment Lions bestowed top honors to Chipotle’s “Back to the Start”, it signaled that brilliant innovation beyond category and convention is what truly grabs attention.
Chipotle’s “Back to the Start,” created by Creative Artists Agency and Nexus Productions is interesting in that it represents the convergence of so many hot-button trends with the fundamentals of great advertising that Cannes juries tend to love: excellent craft and simple storytelling, married with innovative collaborations and a message of global significance that has the potential to positively impact the industry in which Chipotle operates.
In speaking about the Branded Content & Entertainment jury’s decision to award the Grand Prix to the piece, jury president Avi Savar, Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Big Fuel said: “We as a jury started the week talking about what we were looking for: relevancy to the audience, relevancy to the brand, meaningful business outcome, inspiring content. This piece showed us that a brand could have a number one song and make a film and drive events and music and build games. So, it was great example of using all forms of content to connect emotionally with an audience. That was a true representation of what we were looking for.”
Meanwhile, Angus Tucker, Partner and Co-Creative Director of Toronto-based john st. and a member of the Film jury, summed up the communicative power of the piece when he said, “The other thing that struck me about this is that I didn’t know Chipotle at all, they just struck me as another fast food chain from the States. The first time I saw this spot made me completely change my opinion of the company and made me realize they weren’t a big chain mass producing fast food, but they actually had a commitment to more sustainable farming practices.”
Juror Andrea Stillacci, president of Herezie in France, added Chipotle resonated with him because, “it reminds us that apart from the overall structure of business and marketing, we’re all human beings.”
One of the other top contenders for the top prize in the Film category, Canal+ “Bear” rose to Grand Prix in the Film Craft category, as well as taking a Film Gold for its immediate humor and classic filmic quality. Other work tipped as Film Grand Prix front-runners, such as The Guardian’s “Three Little Pigs” and Bill Clinton favorite DirecTV, were each awarded Gold, as were Doritos Dip Desperado, BGH “Dads in Briefs”, and Procter & Gamble’s tear-jerker “Best Job”. To further blur the lines between traditionally held categories, interactive films and Cyber winners Intel “Museum of Me” and OK Go “All is Not Lost” were both awarded Film Golds.
While Nike+ FuelBand won the top prize in the Titanium and Integrated category, Titanium Lions also went to “Rivers of Light” for Defense Humanitarian Demobilization Program and “Connecting Lifelines” for Honda Motor Internavi, both of which combined utility with contributing to the greater good. “Rivers of Light” transformed Columbian waterways into lighted streams with messages encouraging rebel soldiers to demobilize for Christmas, while “Connecting Lifelines” utilized the Honda Internavi’s GPS functionality to create maps of which roads were still open after the tsunami in Japan in order to speed up deliver of aid. Not swayed by the novel, the Titanium and Integrated jury also awarded a Titanium Lion to “Virtual 2Pac” for Coachella.
Finally, the Gold winners in the Branded Content & Entertainment category, which made its debut this year, ranged from the hilariously ribald, like K-Swiss “MFCEO” to enterprising, like “Pom Wonderful presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold”; from the adventurous, like “Nature Valley Trail View” to the notorious, like “Snoop Dogg’s Rolling Words” smokable songbook, and the impactful, like “The Return of Dictator Ben Ali.” More than any category, the Branded Content & Entertainment awards’ diversity illustrates the tidal shift in terms of how brand messages are being conceived and delivered. A shift that Savar best characterizes as putting people before product.
“Traditional advertising is really about figuring out a unique selling point of a product, its features-and-benefits driven and connects product to people. I think true, pure terrific work in our category inverts that, flips it completely on its head. We start with people stories first and figure out how to connect people stories to product.”