A beer ad from Chile by Omnicom Group's OMD, Santiago, won the first Grand Prix, given for media, at this year's Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, but Procter & Gamble Co dominated the Media Lions by walking away with an unprecedented three of the 15 prizes awarded.
The U.S. won just one Media Lion, by Interpublic Group of Cos.' Universal McCann, San Francisco, but nine of the 15 Media Lions were won by U.S.-based multinational marketers, including P&G, FedEx, Apple Computers, Nike and Pepsi Co.'s Frito Lay.
Starcom MediaVest Group
P&G's winning work represented three different product categories on three continents, but one media agency, Publicis Groupe's Starcom MediaVest Group, was responsible for producing it.
One Media Lion was a rare winner from the Middle East. Starcom MediaVest realized that housewives in Lebanon take pride in displaying their clean laundry and even talking about it. So radio stations interviewed women on buses and other public transportation who gave their own laundry tips, which then ran on the radio in ads for P&G's Bonux detergent.
Marketers on the jury
Brian Balderson, P&G's associate director for U.K. and Irish media, said sales of Bonux rose by 20%. Mr. Balderson also served as a judge on the Media Lions jury, along with one executive from Hewlett-Packard and one from Ikea. This year marked the first time marketers joined a Cannes jury.
"Great media creates new connections," said Scott Berg, HP's global media director. "It integrates into peoples' lives seamlessly. Bonux became part of their everyday life."
Japanese cell phones
P&G and Starcom Worldwide Japan, Tokyo, won a Media Lion for Vidal Sassoon by playing on young Japanese women's love of cell phones and e-mailing little characters to each other. Specific characters that could be easily e-mailed were created as a branding device for Vidal Sassoon.
And in another radio campaign, P&G and Starcom in Mexico City invited new mothers to share the favorite story time tales they told to their children; the mother with the best story received a new house, said Kevin Malloy, director of multinational clients at Starcom Media Group and a media judge.
"P&G is still a major TV advertiser," Mr. Balderson said. "But we understand that in the future we are likely to be less dependent on TV."
Grand Prix: Chilean beer
The Grand Prix went to Chilean beer Cristal and OMD for a seamless, blur-the-lines transition between content and commercials that couldn't have been negotiated with a U.S. network.
During movies broadcast on TV, OMD persuaded Chilean networks to morph Cristal into movie scenes, then cut to an immediate commercial break. During Star Wars, for instance, Luke Skywalker reaches for his lightsaber sword -- and pulls out a can of Cristal beer instead, followed instantly by a Cristal spot.
"It's one of the most genius placements as a strategy I ever saw," said Alexander Schmidt-Vogel, president of the Media Lions jury and worldwide CEO of Grey Global Group's MediaCom. "A lot of clients say TV is over. But it's not if you connect with programming the way Cristal has, in an attention-getting, enjoyable, smart way."
Blurring content and ads
The media jury weighs strategy, consumer insights, innovation and results in awarding Media Lions, but doesn't consider issues like blurring the distinction between content and advertising, and whether that is good or bad.
"Some of these markets can get away with stuff that you can't in other markets," Mr. Malloy said.
This year's media jury made a conscious effort to focus more on strategic ideas and less on the stunts that have won a lot of Media Lions in the past. But there is still a whole stunt category, won this year by FedEx and media agency Cinevation in Johannesburg. During that stunt, carried out in South African movie theaters, the film appears to break down and the operator announces that a new tape has to be delivered by FedEx. The doors burst open and a small FedEx truck bursts into the theatre with a new copy of the movie tape.