Tribal DDB and Anomaly take home a Silver Lion each

The agencies, which were recognized for their McDonald's and Budweiser campaigns, respectively, were the only Canadian contenders to snag prizes Monday evening in Cannes.

Canada’s first two Silver Cannes Lions for 2013 were snagged by Tribal DDB and Anomaly Toronto for work produced for McDonald’s Canada and  Labatt Breweries of Canada, respectively, in the Promo & Activation category.

At the Monday evening awards ceremony held in Cannes (which also handed out awards in Creative Effectiveness, Direct and PR – none of which included a Canadian win), Tribal DDB grabbed a Silver prize for the QSR’s “Our Food. Your Questions.” campaign. The transparency-focused work had been nominated for Lions in three of the four categories awarded at the first ceremony, but did not make the cut in Direct and PR.

Anomaly received its Silver for the work it did on the Budweiser Red Lights campaign where consumers could purchase a goal light from the brand and sync it up to their TV to go off when their favourite NHL team scores during a game.

Karen Howe, SVP/CD at Toronto-based One Advertising, who sat on the 31-person Promo & Activation judging panel, said that to win not one, but two Silvers in this particularly competitive category is an incredible feat for Canada.

Less than 10% of the total submissions in the category were awarded hardware, she adds, noting the jury was swayed by both McDonald’s and Labatt’s “bravery” – not only applauding the clients for taking a risk and embracing the idea of being frank with consumers (McDonald’s) or using new technology (Labatt), but also the agencies for how they executed the work.

The Gold Prix winner in Promo & Activation, which also took home two Golds, is “Immortal Fans” by the Brazil Football Club and Ogilvy. For the promotion, the club’s football team, Sport Club Recife, was directly tied to an organ donor program where patients who received a fan’s donated organ promised to keep the passion for the soccer club alive, when they no longer can. The consensus among the judges for the category was that the campaign had longevity, being able to create change even 60 years from now.

“The [Canadian] work is world-class…the creativity coming out of Canada is exceptional. There just isn’t enough of it,” says Howe, explaining that the sheer volume coming out of what are considered much smaller countries, such as New Zealand, was astounding, and that Canadian agencies and clients need to follow suit and invest more in award submissions.

Canada’s two contenders in Direct, Tribal DDB for McDonald’s and Lowe Roche for PFAFF Auto, did not walk away with wins in that category on Monday evening. The Canadian judge on the panel, Trish Wheaton, CEO at Wunderman, said the country might have gotten more shortlists and a better shot at taking home a Lion in the category if it had expanded its interpretation of what Direct really means today.

“The category has expanded exponentially so that you see many things that previously would not have been considered truly direct, but it is,” she said. “My advice and encouragement is to think about the component of campaigns that engages people… Think about entering those because you [want] to enter to win.”

The Grand Prix winner for the category was the Australian “Dumb Ways to Die” campaign for Metro Trains. Produced by McCann Melbourne, the work is one of the most talked about submissions so far this year, having also won a Grand Prix in the PR category (and having been a strong contender for the top prize in Promo & Activation, according to jury president for the category and president of TBWA\Worldwide, Rob Schwartz). The campaign aimed to promote rail safety by way of a catchy jingle sung by a cast of animated characters about the different “Dumb Ways to Die” that went viral (with just under 50 million YouTube views) and created actual behavioural change.

Direct jury president Mark Tutssel, worldwide chief creative at Leo Burnett, said the project used shock tactics in new and effective ways, leading the organization to track a 21% decrease in train injuries. Howe concurred, saying that the reason it took home two Golds in the category she judged, Promo & Activation, was because “it wormed its way into your consciousness and you [paid] attention to it.”

Taking the Grand Prix in Creative Effectiveness was Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam for Heineken’s “Legendary Journey: Justifying A Premium The World Over.”

The shortlists for Cyber, Design and Radio will be released on Tuesday morning. Awards in Mobile, Media, Innovation and Outdoor will be announced tomorrow night.

With files from Val Maloney