Dannes Lions Is a (Real!) Celebration of Comedy in Advertising

By Patrick Coffee 

Daniel Sheppard is a commercial director who’s worked on campaigns for Hershey’s, Jolly Rancher, LG, Sprint, etc. and collaborated with creative teams at Leo Burnett, DDB, Chiat, Ogilvy and more.

His real passion is comedy in advertising–and this year he wants to reward those he most admires in the “funny ad work” field with Dannes Lions, his own twist on the event at which everyone spends a week in France getting drunk and gossiping about co-workers.

Here’s the video call for entries, which debuted on the Lions’ YouTube page this month:

There will indeed be “100 Real Trophies,” which will go to the agencies/teams responsible for what Sheppard deems to be the funniest ads of the past two years.

Sheppard tells us that the Dannes Lions seed started “because every year when Cannes results come out, I always run to see who the winners are–but I’m only interested in the stuff that’s funny. Why isn’t there any [awards program] that celebrates comedy?”

From his own press release:

“For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by advertising and the idea of mixing my own body with a lion’s body and turning it into a trophy. This is an effort to celebrate both.”

Sheppard decided to remedy that lack of recognition for funny ads by creating an alternative to the Cannes Festival. He tells us that, while “this is [only] the first year,” the Dannes will be back in 2016. “If it keeps going, maybe it will be a fun thing.”

Sheppard calls his event “the most prestigious comedy award in advertising,” adding, “I guess it’s the only one, but it’s also the most prestigious.”

He tells us that “for the first year, I’m the only judge,” but notes that he would like to recruit some creative directors to help him pick next year’s funniest.

The Dannes homepage tells us that 365 campaigns have been submitted so far–and Sheppard says that he has received work from TBWA, Grey, DDB, BBDO, McCann, Leo Burnett and more since announcing the competitionvia Facebook on June 1st. The submissions to date include work created for Oreo, Skittles, Esurance, Hotels.com, Buffalo Wild Wings, Pepto Bismol, etc.

Some of that participation came directly from mailing key figures within the industry, but Sheppard attributes much of his project’s success to “word of mouth” among creatives.

While Sheppard doesn’t think “there are any specific brands to beat” in the competition, he does believe that certain companies are “doing consistently good work” and names Old Spice, DirecTV, Kayak and Dish. He also mentions “really great breakthrough stuff from brands like Quilted Northern” like Droga5’s recent “Designed To Be Forgotten” campaign.

The Dannes will not include any free food, alcohol, egos inflated by designer drugs, or incidents fit for this blog–but all 100 winners will be listed on its homepage when Sheppard announces his results on June 25th.

Stay tuned, etc.