The campaign that drove Barack Obama to victory in the US presidential election has claimed two top awards at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Awards.
The campaign, submitted by Obama for America, has been hailed as a masterful combination of new media, door-to-door and community grass roots campaigning with a clever tactical use of traditional TV advertising.
The campaign won two grands prix in the Titanium and Integrated Lions categories.
To win the Titanium grand prix, a campaign must involve a breakthrough idea that is “provocative, challenges assumptions and points to a new direction”.
“Titanium celebrates work that causes the industry to stop in its tracks and reconsider the way forward,” according to the rules set out by the Cannes organisers.
The integrated prize is awarded to a campaign using three or more media – such as TV, press and the internet - that is “high standard and state-of-the-art”.
Earlier in the week, Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe, gave a seminar about how the different facets of media were used to deliver the campaign.
The Great Schlep, the campaign featuring Sarah Silverman designed to increase Obama’s Jewish support, won a Titanium Lion for agency Droga5.
The campaign to boost sales of the Zimbabwean, a newspaper that attacked Robert Mugabe’s regime by using the troubled country’s almost worthless bank notes to make billboard adverts, was awarded a Gold Lion in the Titanium and Integrated Lions category. The campaign, created by the South African agency TBWA/Hunt/Lascaris Johannesburg, previously won the grand prix in the outdoor advertising category.
The US presidential campaign also featured in the awards in the Film Lion category.
Charles Stone III, the creator of Budweiser’s famous “Wassup” TV ads from 2000, was given the unique award of a special jury commendation.
Stone produced a 2008 version, through Los Angeles-based Believe Media, to galvanise support for Obama’s presidential bid.
The ad features the formerly happy-go-lucky characters in dire circumstances, such as being posted to Iraq and the stock market crash, since we last saw them in 2000.
Under the rules of entry the ad is not eligible for consideration for an official award as only work that has been commissioned by a commercial client can be judged. However, the jury felt that the work could not go unheralded at Cannes.
“It was an extraordinary piece of work, as a standalone political statement it is perhaps second to none,” said Bil Bungay, judge and co-founder of UK ad agency Beattie McGuinness Bungay. “It completely captures eight years under president Bush. But we have rules that every work has to be commissioned [by a client] but we felt it was so significant it needed special mention”.
In a year of significantly less buzz and expectation around the traditionally high profile battle for the film grand prix one of the UK’s big hopes, ad agency MCBD’s epic “history of Britain” TV ad for Hovis could only manage a bronze lion.
T-Mobile’s “dance” TV ad, featuring a flash mob dance in Liverpool Street station, netted a Gold Lion for Saatchi & Saatchi. Mother London also managed a Gold Lion for its series of internet ads for Stella Artois featuring spoof trailers for US films and TV shows, shot in the style of French Nouvelle Vague directors such as Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut.
The UK also scored gold with agency Golley Slater’s campaign for the army highlighting road traffic accidents among servicemen.
Perhaps the biggest surprise, from a UK point of view, was the jury’s decision not to even shortlist Fallon London’s latest bizarre TV spot for Cadbury, “Eyebrows”. Last year Fallon was the joint Film Lion grand prix winner for “Gorilla”.
This year’s grand prix winner in the film category was the electronics firm Philips for an extended clip taken in one shot of a bank robbery frozen in time. The ad, by Tribal DDB in Amsterdam, is interactive, with viewers able to pause the shot at any point and open up sub-films on different parts of the robbery in progress. The ad, called Carousel, promoted the Philips Cinema 21:9 TV.
This year’s film lions category saw a 25.4% decrease in entries, from 4,626 to 3,453 year on year, with UK agencies submitting 32.5% fewer entries – down from 381 in 2008 to 257 this year.
But Dave Lubars, the president of the film Lions jury, said there were no issues with the overall quality of film work submitted.
“Entries are down this year but there is the same amount of brilliant work as any other year,” he said. “[Although] this year weaker work was not taken a shot on [by agencies]. There was the same brilliant few hundred things [submitted] this year.”
However, his fellow juror Steve Back, executive creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi in Australia, said that he had seen a lot of “crap” in the run up to finalising the winners.
“In the initial stages I was a little scared [that] under the current economic crisis there was still a lot of crap coming in,” he said. “However, by Wednesday a number of options emerged for the grand prix.”