Cannes 2009: India wins first ever gold in Film Lions; not one but two at a time

By Prajjal Saha , afaqs!, Cannes | In Advertising
Published : June 29, 2009
The Nakka Mukka campaign for the Times of India, Chennai by JWT India has won two golds in the Film Lions - a first for India. The golds came in two sub-categories - Media and Publishing and the Best Use of Music

India has done it this year. After a long wait, it has finally managed not one but two golds in the Films Lions category at the International Advertising Festival, Cannes. The Nakka Mukka campaign for the Times of India, Chennai edition, conceptualised by JWT India, won over the jury and the metals in two sub-categories, Media and Publishing and the Best Use of Music.

David Lubars, chairperson and chief creative officer, BBDO North America and president, Press Lions jury, commenting on the TOI campaign, says, "We saw it live together and all of us liked it. We saw it again and then again. Every time we saw it, we discovered something new in it.

"It was really incredible how, in one minute, it captured the entire life of the city."

He adds, "Even though we are not from India, we could understand the cultural context. The film showed a human culture which any human being could understand. That's why we called it a universal idea."

The film also won a gold for the Best Use of Music. Lubars says, "The music was a very important element of the film. It would not have such an impact other than this piece of music."

Since last year, the Film category has not been restricted to television commercials. Films on digital or interactive media were also included. This also gave a chance for the scams to enter the awards. Lubars comments on this, saying, "We were cautious about this. At any point of the judging process, if we found that the entry was a scam, we called for a cross check."

The Grand Prix win in this category was also an interactive film. It was a film called Carousel for Philips Cinema 21:9 by Tribal DDB, Amsterdam.

Philips wanted to promote the enhanced viewing experience at home by educating the audience about the three main features of Philips televisions - Ambilight, Cinema 21:9 and picture quality.

The agency shot the film on frozen time, but the camera kept moving by using a state of the art motion control rig. This gave the audience control upon interaction, allowing them to literally move the camera back and forth through time, frame by frame.

What made this interaction really special was the interactive cinematic score, which was composed as a linear piece, but was then handed over to a flash music developer to carve and distort as the user moved back and forth through time, frame by frame.

In the second level of interaction, the audience was able to trigger the three behind-the-scenes educational scenes from the film's timeline.

The interactive film was hosted on the Philips website and also aired as a demonstration film in stores.

The jury was unanimous on this decision. Lubars says, "The film was extraordinarily engaging. This one film was nosed up because of its interactivity.

"We also wanted to give a clear message to the clients as well as the agencies that the television commercials are a tool, but not the tool," another jury member comments.

The jury was of the opinion that television films were at the pinnacle. However, the business has changed and that would also reflect in the work.

"All the winning work is for the clients and the agencies to see and learn, and the Grand Prix showed the future possibility of advertising," the jury president says.

The jury said that they saw the films first as consumers, and if they liked it, they tried to rationalise it further as critics.

One highly praised film was 'Love distance' for a condom brand, Sagami Original (from Sagami Rubber), by GT Tokyo.

The jury was of the opinion that this was the best television commercial ever for any condom brand.

The film was in the form of a documentary. The company wanted to promote Sagami Original as the world's thinnest condom - 0.02 mm. It used a real long distance couple and asked them to run a marathon from two different places, which were 1,000 kms apart. The goal was for the two to embrace at a point where the distance would come down from 1,000,000,000 mm (1,000 km) to 0 mm. But love still needed the distance, and was pushed back by a 0.02 mm condom.

Toshiya Kono, executive creative director, Hakuhodo Tokyo, says, "The only reason why this film did not make it for the Grand Prix was that it would have been difficult for many viewers to understand the film without knowing the background."

However, the film that got a special mention was 'True Vote' - part of the Obama campaign. It showed how four brothers or friends - one of them fighting a war for America - were still in touch, despite the effects of the economic downturn and the imminent change in the White House. The spot was a public service announcement for Obama's message of change.

Because it was a public service message, it could not get a Grand Prix, but it did get a special mention by the film jury.

On the Max film that was also nominated, Agnello Dias, partner, TapRoots India, says, "It could not win, not because the idea wasn't great, but because the game it was representing didn't create enough excitement for the jury. Had it been football, it would have surely won."

afaqs! did ask the jury on Vodafones' Zoozoo film and why it wasn't even nominated. The jury president explains, "I personally did not get to the see the film. The jury is divided into three groups for the initial screening.

So, only 1/3 of the jury happens to see it, and if it doesn't catch the attention of the jury, we do not even debate it.

"After all, we are all human," he signs off.

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