Even as a sizeable chunk of the who's-who of India's advertising fraternity is preparing to board the plane to Cannes, Leo Burnett India unveiled the annual Cannes Predictions Reel at The Oberoi, Mumbai, late yesterday evening. The Reel - a compilation of 50 television commercials culled from the world's top 25 award shows this year - is Leo Burnett Worldwide's showcase of cut-through advertising created over the past year… advertising that Burnett thinks stands a good chance of winning Lions at the Cannes International Advertising Festival.
A bit of history first. The Cannes Predictions Reel is a tradition that has been in practice at Burnett since 1986, when the legendary Donald Gunn - former director of creative resources worldwide for Leo Burnett, and former president of the International Advertising Festival at Cannes - first organized a Cannes prediction contest for Leo Burnett employees. Since then, every year, the Reel - created by the Leo Burnett Creative Exchange - is circulated within the Burnett network, and is exposed to the industry, clients and the media. The Reel has slowly gained in stature to become one of the industry standards for creative assessment the world over - which is not so surprising, considering the Reel has boasted 12 of the past 14 Cannes Grand Prix winners. Also of interest is the fact that of the 50 commercials previewed in the Reel last year, 21 eventually picked up Lions.
In India too, the Reel - now in its fourth year of airing locally - has become one of the more looked-forward-to events in the industry's advertising diary. This too comes as no surprise when viewed in the light of the fact that the Reel is perhaps the closest many Indian advertising enthusiasts get to seeing a portion of the best work produced by agencies around the world. The Reel, with its built-in prediction mechanism, also serves as a test of creative judgement, giving participants a chance to see how their assessment of what constitutes great advertising compares to that of the Cannes jury.
Needless to say, Cannes Predictions 2003 gave the gathered audience - a healthy mix of professionals from advertising, marketing and the media - ample scope to put their judgmental skills to test. For of the 50 commercials that were on view, there were at least 35 that were worthy of a vote (each member in the audience was supposed to pick just 20 potential winners). Here are some of those commercial in brief - in no specific order of merit.
The much-talked-about 'sculptor' ad for Peugeot (by Euro RSCG Mezzano Costantini Mignani S.r.l.) was one that appeared to strike a chord with the audience. This set-in-India commercial is about this Indian teenager who first backs his Ambassador (yes, our good old Ambassador) into a solid brick wall, then gets an elephant (we Indians never have a problem getting our hands on one of those, do we?) to sit on the car's bonnet, then chisels away on the car… till he has the Ambassador just the way he wants it. Shaped like a Peugeot. Neat.
Another commercial in the Reel that had an Indian theme was the 'elephant tower' ad for Pepsi (by CLM/BBDO). This one is about this Indian kid who trains a baby elephant to reach for a can of Pepsi that has been put beyond the elephant's reach. Pleased with the result, the kid trains two elephants to stand one on top of the other to reach the Pepsi can. Inspired, the kid trains a whole herd of elephants (we Indians must be marvelous, getting our hands on so many of those) to stand one on top of the other and reach for the Pepsi can. The trick draws the crowds at the village fair and the kid starts making a killing, till another kid sitting in the audience opens a can of Pepsi. The elephant tower - and the kid's money machine - comes crumbling down…
The ad for FedEx (by BBDO Worldwide) was quite funny, if only because it was a clever spoof of the brand's association with the Tom Hanks-starrer Castaway. The film opens with this disheveled guy wearing a tattered blue uniform walking up to a door, a package under his arm. A woman answers the doorbell, and the guy informs her that he is a FedEx employee who was headed to deliver her package, but got marooned on a desolate island for a considerable period of time. It turns out that upon rescue, he has brought the package straight to her - like any good FedEx employee. The woman thanks him for being so considerate and is about to close the door when he asks to know what the package contains. The woman opens the package to disclose a satellite phone, some provisions…
Nike (Wieden + Kennedy) featured thrice in the 2003 Reel. While the brand's 'before' ad focused on athletes and sportspersons in various stages of physical and mental preparation minutes before the game begins, its 'streaker' ad was about this Nike-clad streaker disrupting a football game. The third ad ('angry chicken') had this guy desperately trying to escape an irate chicken that is chasing him. The Adidas film ('slugs', by TBWAChiatDay) was a delightful piece of filmmaking, and was about this pair of Adidas shoes that appear to be out jogging all by themselves. The shoes jog past curious onlookers and snarling dogs till, all of a sudden, on shoe stumbles on the sidewalk and lurches sideways onto the road. A close-up of the shoe shows a slug making its way out of the shoe, while another slug watches from the other shoe. The first slug heaves at the upturned shoe, and with some effort, manages to get the shoe back onto the sidewalk. The shoes/slugs commence running.
The ad for Stella Artois (by Lowe) tells the tale of a meek prisoner in some concentration camp who comes by a bottle of Stella Artois. However, the poor man is unable to savour the contents of the carefully concealed bottle, as he finds it hard to avoid the prying eyes of the other prisoners in the camp. And, of course, he is loath to share his Stella. One day, without provocation, the gentle soul suddenly strikes one of the camp's guards… and is promptly dispatched into solitary confinement. Yes, his treasured bottle goes with him.
Freshmel Lozengers' 'godfather' film (Leo Burnett Chile's hilarious take on Marlon Brando's hoarse voice in The Godfather to sell a cure for sore throats); Krung Thai Consumer Payment's 'murder' ad (a bizarre yet hugely funny deconstruction of a 'murder' by Flagship Bangkok); the wacky 'DJ' ad for Spy Wine Cooler (it's about how the DJ became a DJ, by Saatchi & Saatchi Thailand); BBDO Bangkok's 'dog' film for Bridgestone (this one's about a cuckolded dog wanting to commit suicide); Bartle Bogle Hegarty London's 'fish' ad for Johnnie Walker… One could go on and on.
However, there appeared to be a very broad consensus on what was perhaps the pick of the lot - the exquisite 'cog' ad for Honda, by Wieden + Kennedy London. The two-minute-long film, which has internationally been touted as the hot favourite for this year's Grand Prix, dramatizes the construction of a Honda, cog-up. And the execution of the idea clearly left an impact on yesterday's gathering, with next to everyone listing it among his or her top three ads. The other ads that seemed to make an impression on yesterday's audience were two commercials for Verizon Wireless, three dare-to-get-any-bolder ideas for MTV Latin America, the Krung Thai Consumer Payment ad and the Volkswagen ads. Peugeot's 'sculptor' too seems to have found favour - and people here are betting that the ad's 'exotic Indian content' makes it a potential winner.
Interestingly, the ads for Nike, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Fox Sports, Sony Playstation, Levi's, Heineken, Land Rover and Ikea didn't seem to have made a huge impact yesterday (Nike, many felt, was a let down after last year's 'tag' and 'shade running' commercials). Which is strange, considering many of these brands have had a tradition of winning at Cannes. "Look, many of these brands will definitely win at Cannes, that's for sure," said one senior executive, smiling knowingly. "But was their advertising on par with some of what they have done in the past? I don't think so." His was a sentiment vocalized by quite a few others.
Whether the Cannes jury thinks likewise, we'll soon get to know. Â© 2003 agencyfaqs!