Pat Baron: Why Geico's 'Unskippable' pre-roll was awarded the 2015 Cannes Film Grand Prix

Patrick-Baron-McCann.jpgBy Pat Baron, ECD McCann Melbourne,
Cannes Film Jury Insider

Tor Mhyren, the 2015 Cannes Film Jury President and worldwide chief creative officer, Grey challenged the jury: "New is when you've never seen before what you've just put on a piece of paper. You haven't seen it before and nobody else in the world has ever seen that thing that you've just put down on a piece of paper. And when a thing is new, all you know about it is that it is brand new. It's not related to anything that you've seen before in your life. And it's very hard to judge the value of it. You distrust it. And very often, it's somebody else who has to tell you that that thing has merit, because you have no frame of reference, and you can't relate to it, to anything you or anybody else has ever done before".

These words from Helmut Krone set the tone for the week and provided some unexpected results. Tor said: "Cannes sets the creative bar for the entire industry, everywhere in the world. Let's all look for something truly 'new'.
GEICO-GRAND-PRIX.jpgAs a result Geico's "Unskippable" was awarded a Grand Prix. Has a logo ever lived so large on the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès de Cannes screen? Tor reflected at the press conference: "This broke every rule that we know in film making. In the least sexy media space available, pre-roll, GEICO made content so good they challenge you not to watch. But of course, you can't take your eyes off it."
Diversity in story telling was the winner. We celebrated the beauty of our differences. This was evident in the films as much as the jurors themselves. From Sweden, Germany, Spain, England, Denmark, America, Argentina, Mexico, South Africa, Japan, Thailand, India and other countries they came. It was the largest and most diverse jury I've participated in.

Film is an emotional medium and diversity can also translate into differences between our cultural identity and values - the difference between the economic realities of creating a film in a first world market and third world markets.

BARACK-OBAMA-BETWEEN-TWO-FERNS.jpgSome members of the jury challenged Cannes as to what constitutes film and what doesn't? Like the ALS "Ice Bucket Challenge", created by three women and shared by millions all over the world. "Between Two Ferns" wasn't created by an ad agency but by the White House. This entry split the jury and caused much debate. Was it branded content or film or both? Should this even be considered as a piece of film at all? Many questions were asked and answered.

For mine this was an inspired piece of film and opens up a world of possibilities for the future.
Zach Galifianakis sparring with Barack Obama, the world's most powerful man made for compelling viewing. As Adrian Mills, managing director of McCann Melbourne dryly observed, "Funny beats cynical". It would've contended for a Grand Prix if not for a change in the rules at Cannes. A PSA can win Gold but is no longer eligible for the Cannes Grand Prix. Take careful note all executive creative directors out there as this door has well and truly closed.
LikeAGirl (1).jpgIKEA's "Beds" and the John Lewis "Monty's Christmas" which won Grand Prix in Craft were outstanding. Many jurors felt strongly for #likeagirl and you could argue that had this been launched more recently and not grown so familiar to us all, #likeagirl may have gone on to win Grand Prix. We'll never know.
Magnum's "Be True To Your Pleasure", was indulgent, thought provoking, intelligent, sensual and haunting all at the same time. Courage was rewarded. Brave. As was the confident, strong and original music video "Prototype". Guinness "Made Of Black" was an assault of the senses, a festival for the eyes. I got lost in this.
The timeless "Leica" from F/NAZCA Saatchi & Saatchi Brazil was classic film making. "Leica" in Portuguese, translated into English, (a language which can sound self-important even pompous in comparison) used iconic imagery that spoke volumes. Consider all the agencies from non-English speaking countries that have no choice but to stick large sub-titles in Helvetica, with clumsy English translations onto their beautiful films. I wondered how I would feel if next year Cannes was adjudicated in Spanish or French? Or say Spikes in Mandarin or Japanese? Nuances get lost in translation.
I made new friends and have gained a renewed sense of self-confidence from the experience. I left refreshed and looking for a blank sheet of white paper. The journey to something, somewhere, somebody and somewhat begins.

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