Few U.S. Winners in Direct, Media

CANNES, FRANCE GM Planworks won the sole U.S. Media Lion at the International Advertising Festival today for a Pontiac promotion in which Oprah Winfrey gave away free cars to audience members at her show.

Meanwhile, in the Lions Direct competition, there were three U.S. winners out of 48 total. WongDoody in Seattle picked up a gold Lion for work on behalf of Alaska Airlines, Rogers Townsend in St. Louis won a bronze Lion for “Crisply Folded Shirt” for Pleats Finest Cleaners, and Publicis in New York earned a bronze Lion for a Denny’s restaurant promotion, “Pillowcase.”

The Grand Prix in Media went to MediaCom in Tel Aviv, Israel, for a campaign to launch a new detergent, Biomat. The campaign included trucks driving around in conservative neighborhoods, where people might not watch television. The trucks collected clothes for the needy and were equipped with laundry machines. When the clothes were collected, they were washed on the spot with Biomat.

“The campaign developed a unique medium,” said jury president Mark Stewart, managing director of OMD’s Eastern region. “It expanded the concept of what is
media today.”

The U.S. Media Lion winner, the Oprah Winfrey Pontiac promotion via GM Planworks in Detroit, was “such an event on such a scale that received so much publicity, the boldness of the execution had to be recognized and rewarded,” Stewart said.

Twenty Media Lions were presented. Japan won the most, four, while Colombia
had three.

Altogether, nine gold, 14 silver and 25 bronze awards were given out at the Lions Direct ceremony, as well as the Grand Prix, which went to a television
execution by Nordpol Hamburg Agentur fur Kommunikation in Hamburg, Germany.
The execution, for Renault Nissan Deutschland, allowed viewers an opportunity to switch between two channels during the commercial. On one station they saw a man happily walking around, while the second station showed the same man walking around gloomily. The end of the commercial shows the two men entering a parking garage, and directs viewers to a Web site to see what will happen. On the Web site, it turns out that the happy man is walking to a Renault, while the gloomy man is walking toward another car.

“We know TV as a ‘lean back’ medium,” said jury member Joel Sobelson, evp, chief creative officer of Wunderman in New York. “This campaign took a medium we all understand as ‘lean back’ and made [consumers] interact with the TV. A passive medium became interactive.”

Why were there so few U.S. winners in the Lions Direct competition? Jurist Lor Gold, chief creative officer of Draft in Chicago, speculated that cultural differences might be one reason.

“Culturally, other countries use direct not only sell a product, but set up pre-dispositions [about the product], so they’re much more image-oriented, because they don’t have television as a backup,” he said. “So they’re used to seeing more image-oriented direct, but they don’t do that [in the U.S].”

The United Kingdom and Germany won the most direct awards, eight and six, respectively.

The 2005 Direct Agency of the Year went to Grand Prix winner Nordpol Hamburg Agentur fur Kommunikation. Second place went to Harrison Troughton Wunderman in London, while Ogilvy & Mather in Vienna, Austria, came in third.

The awards were given out during a ceremony in Cannes on Tuesday. The International Advertising Festival continues tomorrow with the Press, Outdoor & Cyber Lions Awards ceremony.