By Eleftheria Parpis, Adweek creative editor
Attendance is down and so are the entries, but it goes without saying that fabulous work will be celebrated at this week’s festival. The recession, of course, will temper the show’s over-the-top activities. It’s time to get back to basics-and that means a renewed focus on the work. This year, 11 different juries will consider a total of 22,652 entries (down 20 percent from last year). Here are my five favorites — and why I think they should bring home top prizes.
Campaign: Obama for America
Will the advertising industry’s largest international awards show honor a political campaign with its highest honor? Depends on whether the jury, led by David Droga, founder and creative chairman of Droga5, can put aside politics when reviewing the 403 entries in the Titanium and Integrated competition, and view the case history for what it is: one of the most powerful examples ever of modern brand building.
“Obama for America” used every available media channel to put a candidate in direct communication with the public, along the way rewriting the rules of political advertising. A rich showcase of engagement, it utilized a Web site and a blog, social-networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, an iPhone application, videogame advertising — even Barack Obama merchandise — to build an unprecedented grassroots movement that turned a little-known senator from Illinois into a U.S. president and global icon for “change.”
The campaign won a Grand Clio last month (a gold Clio in Interactive went to the powerful Obama music video, “Yes We Can,” created by Black Eyed Peas’ frontman will.i.am). And Droga5’s hysterically funny call to action for Obama via the Jewish Council for Education and Research, “The Great Schlep,” starring Sarah Silverman, will most likely score in Cannes. But will the insular ad industry give a political campaign its most prestigious award? It would be a daring move that embraced the notion that a great idea can come from anywhere. For more on this pick, click here.
AFTER THE JUMP: predictions for Cyber, Film, Press, Design and Integrated.
Campaign: Burger King, “Whopper Sacrifice”
Agency: Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Boulder, Miami
Leave it to the agency that created Burger King’s “Subservient chicken” to come up with a Facebook application that flipped the entire social-networking model on its head. Instead of adding friends, BK cheekily set to prove “friendship is strong, but the Whopper is stronger” by asking members of the site to ruthlessly sacrifice their friends in exchange for free Whoppers. For every 10 friends dropped, the fast-food chain gave participants a coupon for a burger. Users also watched “ex”-friends go up in virtual flames. Like much of Crispin’s work for the brand, the application was controversial: Facebook, as a rule, does not alert members who are dropped as friends, but those sacrificed to the “King” were indeed notified. Instead of making any changes to the promotion, however, the client and agency decided to end it. The attention-grabbing effort — one of 2,205 Cyber entries — was flawlessly executed, well timed, and tapped into a latent dissatisfaction with the social network and its liberal use of the word “friend.” To date, “Whopper sacrifice” has amassed a gold One Show Pencil, a gold ADC Cube, a Yellow Pencil from D&AD, a Grand Clio in Interactive and more. As one of the smartest and most inventive coupon promotions I’ve ever seen, a top prize in the Cyber competition would be well deserved.
Campaign: Philips, “Carousel”
Agency: Tribal DDB, Amsterdam
Film-inspired dramas on the Web are as old as BMW Films. But this 2-minute, 19-second cinematic short directed by Stink Digital’s Adam Berg for Tribal DDB is stunningly original, pulling viewers into an elaborate scene of a shootout between police and clown-masked robbers in one continuous — and frozen — shot. The deliciously dark film promotes the Philips Cinema 21:9 LCD TV, the first movie-proportioned TV screen. Found on www.cinema.philips.com, the piece smartly targets film buffs by using all the elements of a feature-inspired Grand Prix blockbuster spot. It’s stylish, epic and masterfully produced. The sound design especially amplifies the eerie experience of moving through the frozen landscape, and interactive elements give viewers a plethora of behind-the-scenes content. The entry also stands to win in Cyber. Other noteworthy contenders in Film, which has 3,453 entries, are: Nike’s “Fate,” a spot from Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore., that expertly tells the stories of two football players from womb to field; Shelter’s “House of Cards” from Leo Burnett, showing homes built from cards collapsing to Radiohead’s “Videotape”; and Levi’s gritty tale of young lust in “Secrets and Lies” from BBH.
Campaign: Alka-Seltzer, “Dissolve your problems”
Agency: CLM BBDO, Boulogne-Billancourt, France
If only it were as easy to solve sticky situations in real life. This clever print campaign for upset stomachs, which needs no copy to tell its stories, shows illustrated characters in black silhouette that have all swallowed something — e.g., a tape recorder — to avoid a problem or uncomfortable situation. The simple series, which includes “Bear,” “Paparazzi,” “Magician,” “Mafia” and “Prison,” grabs viewers attention with its great illustrations, hilarious circumstances and economical narratives. Viewers can’t help but imagine the events that took place seconds before the scenes being shown. In one ad, an angry bear with an arrow sticking out of its backside stares down a tiny Indian who, the X-ray-like image reveals, has swallowed the evidence — the bow. Other ads show gangsters facing a snitch with a recorder in his stomach, a magician who swallowed his saw, and a prisoner who swallowed a bar of soap. An Alka-Seltzer tablet floats in each one, its fizz forming the easily missed tagline, “Dissolve your problems.” The campaign — one of 5,048 entries-has already won top prize in print at the Clios and a Yellow Pencil at D&AD, among other awards.
Campaign: BMW Museum, “Kinetic sculpture”
Agency: ART+COM, Berlin
Kinetic art pieces are nothing new, but this installation for the BMW Museum in Munich, Germany, is an especially innovative and mesmerizing piece of branded environmental design. Covering six square meters, it consists of 714 metal spheres hanging from thin steel wires. The balls move back and forth, shifting in shape from abstract to BMW cars. The movement is choreographed to light, text and audio from the company’s senior executives, and is meant to impart the company’s values and design goals. The piece, which won a Black Pencil at last month’s D&AD Awards, is a standout among the 1,138 other entries in the design category.
Campaign: Queensland Tourism, “Best job in the world”
Agency: CumminsNitro, Brisbane, Australia
This work for Queensland tourism promotes travel to the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef with a buzz-building campaign for the best job in the world. The job: Living on Hamilton Island, exploring the other Great Barrier Reef islands, and sharing the experience via weekly blogs, and photo and video diaries. The pay: $150,000 for a six-month contract. (The winner starts his daily grind in July.) The year-long campaign, which won Best of Show at The One Show among other industry honors, began six months ago with classified ads in key markets inviting applicants to pitch their services in a 60-second video uploaded to islandreefjob.com. The salary, to be paid in Australian dollars, was taken out of the ad budget. The campaign received nearly 35,000 applications from 201 countries. The free media coverage generated by the contest was estimated by the agency to be worth more than $80 million. This is one of the most exciting tourism campaigns I’ve ever seen, worthy not only of a top Integrated prize (a contest with 403 entries), but a win in the newest competition of the festival, the PR Lions.