Direct Grand Prix Goes to Aussies

CANNES, FRANCE Host in Sydney, Australia, took home the Direct Grand Prix for a Virgin Mobile campaign that centered on “Warren,” a single looking for love using the wireless provider’s 5-cent text messaging program.

A series of TV spots, print ads and ambient media featuring a 20-something guy named Warren encouraged consumers to “Text me! 0403 Warren” or “To Be My Text Kitten.”

Direct jury president Howard Draft applauded the effort’s use of humor, as well as its adherence to direct marketing principles. “We have to be careful that we don’t morph into film,” said Draft, chairman and CEO of the Interpublic Group’s Draft Worldwide in New York. “We have to be true to our industry, selling products in a cost-effective manner, but bringing creative to a whole new level.”

The 21-person jury handed out 19 golds, 18 silver and 25 bronze Lions out of 1,209 entries in the third year of the competition at a ceremony held at the Palais des Festivals, which also recognized the Media Lions (see related story).

There were three U.S. gold Lion winners in the direct competition: Digitas, Ogilvy & Mather and Leo Burnett.

Digitas scored a gold for its work on behalf of the Jazz Musicians Emergency Fund, an organization that helps elderly jazz artists who are in need of financial assistance. To encourage people to donate, the Boston independent shop placed CDs that looked like classic Blue Note records alongside real used CDs in record stores under the heading, “Jazz Musicians: Used.” Copy on the free CDs told the organization’s story, while CD-ROMs inside directed people to a Web site where they could pledge money to the cause.

WPP Group’s Ogilvy & Mather in New York was recognized for its American Express five-minute Webisodes starring comedian Jerry Seinfeld and an animated Superman. Publicis Groupe’s Leo Burnett in Chicago received a gold for Procter & Gamble’s, a Web site created by Always and Tampax to make sense of the physical, emotional and sexual metamorphosis girls experience at adolescence.