Top Cannes contenders: Radio

Strategy is counting down the campaigns most likely to win big at the Palais at this year's festival.

As we count down the days to the Cannes Lions submission deadline (March 28)strategy is rounding out the most likely contenders for each category, tapping the top folks in the industry to help us narrow down the list. This week, we’re taking a gander in the Radio category. Check back regularly until the deadline to see which campaigns have the best shot in Cannes.


Campaign: Frank
Brand: The Salvation Army
Agency: Grey Canada

Chosen by: Denise Rossetto, partner and CD, DS+P

Radio is really a challenging category. With no visual accompaniment whatsoever, the word bears a mighty load. You have to get people’s attention and somehow keep it when they are looking at something completely different at the same time. So when you nail it, it can be some of the best work in any show.

The ad “Frank” by Grey for The Salvation Army has been cleaning up in our Canadian award shows and I think it’s one of our best shots in Radio in Cannes this year. It does a bunch of things right – starting with casting. Using Canadian voice legend, Fred Napoli, it lets you know a grave story is about to be told. And then it’s told again with a slight twist. The story is written the same way – with only commas, no periods, so there’s no way out but to listen to its entirety. Problems like homelessness can feel so overwhelming that one is often inclined to just avoid them. What this commercial does so well is let you off the hook. The Salvation Army is not asking you to “solve” homelessness and poverty problems. Its just asking you to help make them a little less shitty.

Campaign: Unch
Brand: Ford
Agency: Y&R
Chosen by: Robin Heisey, CCO, Draftfcb

The Radio category is undergoing some big changes, with the introduction of sophisticated mobile offerings like iTunes radio – a platform that allows utilization of not just the iTunes ecosystem and profiling, but the handset and its sensing technologies. Even more disruptive, connected cars are beginning to emerge, with their ability to serve up radio content on a profoundly more personal and timely basis, including of course, advertising content. So reviewing Cannes-potential work in a category with so much imminent change seems a little like cataloguing the architecture of Pompeii the night before Vesuvius blows up.

That said, whatever the next few years hold, creativity is still going to be the magic ingredient that gets more engagement for listeners and more value for advertisers. And that creativity is evident in this spot targeting drivers for Ford by Y&R, where nothing but words and a single announcer take you on a 30-second journey that starts with wondering what an “Unch” is to thinking you’ve accidentally tuned into an Italian station to wondering whether you should buy that aftermarket battery you were considering for your car. Make sure to take a listen and hear for yourself.

Campaign: McRib
Brand: McDonald’s
Agency: Cossette

Chosen by: Karen Howe, SVP/CD, One Advertising

Great radio is important to me because I know how difficult it is to write.  And secondly, because I spend vast portions of my life in the gridlock commonly known as “commuting in Toronto”, I listen to a lot of it.

This year has been slim pickings, but a few gems caught my ear. One is McRib radio for McDonald’s by Cossette – a  faux “station” dedicated to all things McRib. This porcine silliness stuck out for a few reasons: it was well written and well executed.  But it also stood out because the toughest slog of all is to write great retail radio.  Good work, tough category, well done.

Are we missing a strong Radio contender? Weigh in below. 

Check out the contenders in the OOHInnovationCreative EffectivenessFilm CraftPromo & ActivationPR, Mobile and Film categories. 

Image courtesy of Shutterstock