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To the Cannes Victor Go the Spoils

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But Doug Ulman, CEO of the cyclist's cancer foundation, asked, "Was the success because of the campaign or Lance's return to the tour? It's hard to know."

In another case where creative success seemed to dovetail with business success, Crispin Porter + Bogusky took home the Titanium Grand Prix for Best Buy's launch last July of Twelpforce. A year later, Twelpforce counts 27,000 followers and has generated 30,000 Tweets. The TV spots for the launch closed showing a laptop, which also may have helped back-to-school business, with laptop sales exceeding the retailer's goal by 40 percent, per Crispin.

Meanwhile, one of the year's most whimsical efforts, Volkswagen Sweden's "Fun Theory" from DDB Stockholm, also provided strong ROI. That push, which turned a stairwell in a subway into a keyboard to encourage people to take the stairs, has logged 19 million views on YouTube since its October release. The pitch, which won a Cyber Grand Prix, also posted strong sales: VW's overall share of the Swedish market  more than tripled to 13 percent in the first six months of this year, as sales rose 58 percent, per DDB Stockholm.

Mark Tutssel, Burnett's global CCO and a Cannes judge, said that despite the occasional exception, Cannes winners tend to be solid business successes. In previous years, Burnett has conducted surveys tracking award-winning ads with business performance. In its most recent survey, Burnett found an 86 percent correlation between award-winning work and effectiveness, up from 78 percent in 1997, the first year of the study.

"As Cannes evolves, it reflects the changes in our industry," said Tutssel. It used to be that "the real world of advertising was about how well [an ad] sells. And then there [were ads just] designed to win awards. It's no longer an either/or situation."

See also: "All the Best in Film From Cannes 2010"