A 17-Minute Film From a Bank Just Won the Entertainment Lions Grand Prix at Cannes

MRM//McCann triumphs with Santander's 'Beyond Money'

CANNES, France—A bank in Spain has won the Entertainment Lions Grand Prix at Cannes for a sci-fi thriller short film that questions whether money is more important than experiences.

The film, called “Beyond Money,” is about a woman who sells her own memories. The film screened at theaters in Spain, and started a debate about the real value of money. See the case study, and the full film, here:

Jury president P.J. Pereira, chief creative officer of Pereira & O’Dell, said “Beyond Money” was one of those rare branded entertainment creations that’s as high-quality as regular entertainment.

“How brands can find a way to compete for consumers’ time against regular entertainment was one of the most fascinating and enlightening conversations I’ve ever had in my career,” he said of the jury deliberations. “The work that got picked as the Grand Prix is the most perfect example of that, and how a brand can make a statement about itself but also conquer and earn the precious time that consumers want to invest in it.”

Pereira said any branded entertainment must have artistic integrity first, before brand integrity.

“Not that the brand is not important. It is. They’re the ones funding it,” he said. “But unless you are seriously commitment to the person who’s giving you the honor of watching what you’re doing, then it’s not going to work. And [“Beyond Money”] did that in a very delicate way, an original way, an inspiring way.”

In its fantastical story, “Beyond Money” has echoes of Pereira & O’Dell’s “The Beauty Inside” for Intel and Toshiba, which won several Grand Prix five years ago. Pereira acknowledged that, but said that “everything coming from the same DNA” in this category.

“This is the most essential question for our industry today,” he added. “We have evolved as an industry to add more forms of creativity. But most of them are still based on one fundamental truth—that you can buy the time from the consumer. Well, that truth is no longer unbreakable. What ‘Beyond Money’ does, and what ‘Beauty Inside’ and other things from the past did as well, they are seriously committed to providing a good time and competing against not just other ads but against regular entertainment.”

Pereira was in a somewhat awkward position as jury president this year, as Pereira & O’Dell’s Werner Herzog-directed documentary Lo & Behold: Reveries of a Connected World, made for Redscout, was also in the running for the Grand Prix. So, Pereira had to leave the room for the Grand Prix discussion, which also included a third piece, OgilvyOne Athens’ “From the Start” film for chocolate brand Lacta.

Another juror, Jason Xenopoulos, CEO and chief creative officer at VML South Africa, spoke about the Grand Prix discussion, saying the jurors weren’t completely united on a choice at first but did come to a unanimous decision.

“We were looking for that magic combination of a great investment for the brand and a great investment of time for the audience,” he said. “P.J.’s piece, Lo & Behold, which is a Werner Herzog documentary, is a film that I wouldn’t be surprised if it won at the biggest film festivals in the world. It’s an incredible film. ‘From the Start,’ the Greek piece, likewise is a beautiful piece of fiction with a very, very deep product and brand integration in it.”

But “Beyond Money,” he said, was category changing.

“It was a great piece of film that integrated the brand in a truly seamless and meaningful way,” he said. “And it didn’t just move the positioning of the brand forward. It moved the whole category of financial services forward—in taking a big, brave step in getting people to really start questioning whether or not money is really more important than experiences. We thought it was incredibly well dramatized—not just a brand idea but a philosophical idea.”

For the record, Pereira said he would have voted for “Beyond Money” as well.