Chipotle, Honda Win Multiple Gold Lions in Branded Content, But No One Takes Grand Prix

U.S. work for Samsung and Sony also honored

Headshot of David Griner

CANNES, France—In one of the marketing industry's hottest categories, branded content and entertainment, three U.S. campaigns won gold Lions at Cannes here tonight, but the top honor went noticeably unawarded.

Chipotle and CAA Marketing topped the leaderboard with three gold Lions in Branded Content for The Scarecrow, a three-minute animated video that's been viewed on YouTube more than 12.8 million times. The video and the marketing effort around it have been big winners throughout this year's Cannes Lions, taking a Grand Prix in both PR and Cyber, along with multiple golds.

Read more about The Scarecrow in our article on its PR victories at Cannes

While Chipotle was the category's clear winner in terms of number of gold Lions, the judges declined to honor the burrito chain nor any other entrant with the Grand Prix, the festival's highest honor. The absence of a top honoree was no random quirk of scoring. Jury president Doug Scott, president of OgilvyEntertainment, told Adweek that the panel hopes to encourage bolder ideas in future years. 

"Despite the fact that we saw great submissions from clients and agencies around the world, and awarded 11 golds, none of the work exemplified all of the key elements of extraordinary branded content—originality, craft, integration, brand alignment and most importantly narrative," Scott said.

"It is my belief that we as the provocateurs of culture need to push harder with our creative tools and create stories that not only reflect the present but set the future."

Despite the general criticism and lack of a Grand Prix, the judges did honor quite a few campaigns with prestigious gold Lions. Beyond Chipotle, U.S. marketers earning gold Lions were:

• Honda and agency RPA, taking home two gold Lions in Branded Content for its U.S. campaign "Project Drive-In," an integrated campaign to raise awareness and support for America's drive-in theaters, which face closure due to the high cost of upgrades needed to meet Hollywood's transition to digital projection. 

• Samsung and 72andSunny for the "Oscars Selfie"

• Sony Music and Interlude N.Y. for "Bob Dylan: Like a Rolling Stone"

The non-U.S. gold Lion winners were:

• Volkswagen Brazil / AlmapBBDO / Kombi Last Wishes – Brazil – 2 gold Lions

• Terre Des Hommes Netherlands / LEMZ Amsterdam / Sweetie – The Netherlands – gold Lion

• AMIA (Asociacion Mutual Israelita Argentina) / Ogilvy & Mather Argentina/ AMIA Booth – Argentina – gold Lion

@griner David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."