Ted Royer's Cannes Diary

ted-ROYER-BEST.jpgCampaign Brief Asia asked Droga5 New York ECD Ted Royer to be our eyes on this year's Cannes Lions Film & Cinema jury. Here are his FINAL DAY observations on the judging.

Forgive me, I have been slacking. No, I wasn't drunk the whole time, but I have been judging some long days, gotten the flu and have a very weird bump rapidly growing on my neck. Things are not looking good for me. But the work is great, and seeing how this is my last entry, I'll jump straight to the big winners, some of my favorites and comment on other stuff.

All week long we were worried there might not even be a Grand Prix, and seeing how the last time that happened the jury was almost run out of town, it was a huge relief when several things clearly rose to the top.

Grand Prix was unanimous. It's a piece of work that crosses many boundaries, and does a brilliant job of pointing the way forward. It's an instructional film, a documentary, a product demonstration, a viral, an interactive piece, and a beautiful brilliant stand alone film all by itself. It's the Phillips Carousel work done for their large format TV. Seek it out and have fun.

Some of the other contenders for the top prize were:

Love Distance from Japan. A gorgeous piece of work, beautiful on it's own and only gaining in power when you know the whole story behind it. All the judges loved it. In this business we tend to disparage "easy" clients like condoms and beer. I often say to creatives, "To put a condom ad in your book, it has to be the most amazing condom ad in the world, otherwise don't put it in because it's a category that is too easy to do." Well, congratulations to GT Tokyo, you may have actually made the most amazing condom ad in the world.

James Boag's Draught magic waters. Great spot. Probably couldn't have been produced much better than it was.

Other gold winners include the epic Times of India Chennai saga, a huge favorite for some judges, a very funny, very "French" Stella Artois campaign from Mother, and a really interesting "other screens" installation piece from the Chambers Hotel in Minneapolis.

Personally, I thought the Bruce Lee work for Nokia deserved a bit more. It was as big a viral piece as I've seen all year. I think some of the judges may not have fully understood the subtle humor in it, how it wasn't just an homage and imitation of Bruce Lee but was done in a really tongue-in-cheek, funny way. Nice stuff.

The K-SME Credit campaign from Thailand made everybody laugh out loud and continued the tradition of Thai humor making a strong showing every year in Cannes. Everyone always has high expectations for Thailand, a big compliment to the industry there. The Semir clothing spot had a dash of Thai humor as well, even though it was from Shanghai. Good work.

Congrats to all the winners, and good luck for next year.

Day Three

As predicted, things are getting better. We watched internet films today, and there were some real standouts. Things should get through nicely despite British judge Bil Bungay`s best attempts to kill everything in sight. Someone get Bil a machine gun, he`s in a killing mood. Also all respect is due to Toshiya Kono from Japan, who insists on watching every piece to the very end, even when its fairly clear it will be bad. With Toshi, you get your money`s worth in judging.

Now that I`ve thought about it, it still is a sausage-fest here in this jury. There are only three women out of a total of 21 judges (22 if you count David Lubars). The three are the hilarious Lisa Bennett from DDB, the saucy and hilarious Sophie Shoenburg from AlmapBBDO in Brazil, and Steve Back from Saatchi in Australia. No, wait, I meant to say my good friend Janet Kestin from O&M toronto, of Dove fame. And each day they split the women up so there´s one in each group. I guess they don`t want female block voting.

So yeah, interweb films today. I can`t talk about specific work, but suffice it to say there´s really nice stuff from a brand that rhymes with Bella Bartois, and some not-so-nice formulas that keep popping up. Even internet stuff has fallen into repetitive types. It´s not enough to just find some mildly interesting artist or musician and then do a documentary about how cool they are and then tack on your brands logo as if to say "we know how cool this guy is, so we must be cool to."

Nor it is good to take an idea that would work as something in ad length and stretch it out to 3 minutes. I know the internet has freed us ad people from the restrictive and stifling 30 second limit, but if you don`t have that much to say, don`t take forever to say it. Lots of ideas that would probably get a lot farther if they ad been judiciously edited will die because they just bore the judges. So long does not equal good. Good equals good.

Tomorrow we do the shortlist.

Day Two

Still divided into groups. But things are moving a long nicely.

I'm seriously depressed, because we watched Public Service today. Damn. Child soldiers, land mines, cancer. I know these are extremely important causes to fight for and bravo for those who gave their time and support to these, but seeing them all at once like that makes one want to curl up in a ball and weep. Some really good stand-outs in the category. It should be nice. Creatives seem to have a real penchant for telling stories in animation, which, while sometimes beautiful, causes the viewer to become really detached from the problem. I'm just saying.

It's tough watching this because you sympathize for the problem in these ads, but have to vote for the idea, not the organization. So a lot of this work might actually get me to donate, but that doesn't mean the creative solution is worthy of a lion.

And for Public Service, the things that really seem to get us wonderful and talented judges buzzing are the spots that offer easy ways to help, not just depictions of the problems. People want to be armed with a way to behave or act, not just asked to donate.

Also shimmering mandolin soundtracks seem really, really popular when you want to make people sad.

Then we saw categories for alcoholic drinks and candy. I guess they thought we needed that after all the public service. Some funny stuff, but there seems to be echoes of skittles everywhere, and few things that match that high standard.

Happiness Factory has had quite an impact around the world because there are more than a few animated spectacles with huge crowds of happy characters all marching happily in support of whatever product they're selling. Happiness Factory was great, but these imitators seem a bit creepy, kind of like watching parade footage from facist dictatorships.

More raining food spots. I'm sure tomorrow will be better.

Day One

I've noticed that any time someone writes a "diary" from Cannes or The Andy's or wherever, they always start by subtly bragging. They say how intimidating it is to be on a jury with such great people, and how wonderful it is just to be in the presence of such talented creative. But what the writer really means is that by extension he or she is wonderful and talented. See how that works? So here goes:

It is such an honor to be among such great and talented creatives on the highly prestigious and intimidating Cannes Film Jury. Only the very best wonderful and talented judges here. Etc.

Now a few stats: film entries are down by about 1,000 over last year. Attendance is down by 40% or so. And everyone's talking about it being a "down" year. But if you think that attendance was even less in 2003 than it was this year, it doesn't seem so down after all.

That said, things have changed here, and they'll never be the same again. Film used to be the undisputed king of the show. And while it's still up there, winning other categories has pulled right along side in terms of prestige. Titanium is the one everyone really talks about (probably because of it's rarity).

However, a great film is still a great film. And still hard to get exactly right. And now we have web films, long form, ads, installation vids, the works. Lots of formats, lots of options.

For the first few days they've split the wonderful and talented bunch of us into three groups, so I haven't had a chance to see everything. But what I have seen is less than inspiring. And the judges in the other groups are all saying the same things.

There are a few formulas that get repeated over and over again, So I will list a few of these formulas in the hope that anyone reading this will never repeat them again. I urge any creatives out there reading this not to ever again write the following ads:

1. A product (usually a laptop or cell phone) magically transforms the world or a city (usually by using light) and everyone gets happy.

2. A person (usually a child) smiles and runs through a city. Then that person get joined by more people, all smiling and running, then a huge crowd gathers, all smiling and running, Then we see them begin to "create" something out of everyday objects. Then we see a long distance shot of the "creating " something, usually from a car window. Then a dog watches them. Then they step back and admire what they've created (usually a big logo).   

3. People are depressed. Then it rains a food product or drink product from the sky. People get happy.

4. A guy in an office wants a product so badly he does something really stupid to get it. Everyone else watches with deadpan looks on their faces.

Please don't write these ads. Please.


Anonymous said:

Hi there,
We, at Good Morning Films are really excited about being awarded the Cannes Golden Lion for our work on the Times Of India campaign.
Excited to see the industry chatter about it! We are currently working on a number of similarly exciting projects and in the past have done some interesting work for other brands like , Hitachi, Honda, Sony, Lenovo Computers, MTV among others.
What has really made this award special for us is that it is the first time that an agency in India has won it so it is a real honor for us.
If you would like to see the ad again, you can check it out at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDWa6RPMV-w or you can search on you tube dot com for ‘good morning films’.
We would love it if you got in touch to share any thoughts you have about the ad. You can get in touch through our website www.goodmorningfilms.com (good morning films dot com). Or just post your thoughts here!
Thanks, the Good Morning Films Team.

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