Canada picks up six Lions at final award show

Bringing Canada's total up to 15, agencies took home hardware in the Branded Content, Film and Film Craft categories.
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By Jennifer Horn, Val Maloney and Emily Wexler

Canada collected more hardware on the final night of the Cannes Lions. We came away with one Silver and five Bronze Lions across the Branded Content and Entertainment, Film and Film Craft categories.

And while we didn’t manage to secure any Golds or Grand Prix this week, our country finished with 15 awards total – three Silvers and 11 Bronze during the main festival, and one Health Lion.

Branded Content and Entertainment:

There was no Grand Prix winner chosen in the Branded Content and Entertainment category. According to head juror Doug Scott, president and founder of OgilvyEntertainment, there wasn’t one single case among the Golds that stood out as exceptional above the rest.

Scott defined branded content as “marketing so good you don’t know it’s marketing” – something that you see out versus something that interrupts.

Canada took home two medals in the category. A Silver went to Volkswagen Canada’s Once More: The Story of VIN 903847, a half-hour documentary created by Toronto-based agency Red Urban and directed by Oscar-nominee Hubert Davis. The project, which aired on Bell Media’s Bravo and Discovery Channel, chronicled the “life” of a 1955 Beetle, owned by a man named Wolfgang Paul Loofs who transported the Beetle around the world to visit his brother who was an archeologist.

The documentary was also posted on a microsite where viewers could immerse themselves in the story with additional historical footage, photographs and diaries culled from the research.

Canadian jury member Randy Stein, partner, creative at Grip Limited, said the documentary stood out for really expressing the brand’s story and the love that Beetle owners have for the car. “Then I think the craft of it was really what elevated that, it’s really a well-executed documentary, everything from the cinematography to the editing to the sound design, everything about it is really charming and engaging,” he added.

Canada’s other medal in the category was a Bronze for WestJet’s “Christmas Miracle” video by Mosaic and Studio M.

Stein said he had to provide context to the other jurors to take the case from a “nice thing to do” to worthy of Lions consideration.

“When [the jurors] start to understand what the brand narrative is, about ‘owners care’ relative to the dominant airline in the industry that is sometimes seen as larger, more bureaucratic…then all of sudden when you view it through the lens of the smaller guy who’s all about caring about its customers, I think it just elevates it to the point where it can become medal-worthy.”


Canada brought home three Bronze Lions in Film. The first went to Lg2 for its “Meditation” spot for Krispy Kernels. The off-the-wall spot, with media by PHD! Touche, sits in on a meditation session where four people are shown falling into a relaxed mode of consciousness, while one crunches on a pack of Krispy Kernels. There’s also some bizarre ESP action and other phenomenon, illustrating how “irresistibly good” the brand’s nuts are.

Picking up another Lion today, this time a Bronze, was Volkswagen Canada’s Once More: The Story of VIN 903847.

“I felt it was a great piece of long-form [content],” said Canadian juror Lance Martin, ECD and partner at Union. “It was a documentary where the product was integral to the story and it was a half an hour of appointment viewing. It suffered [in the jury room] from the format being a little long – they’re judging 2,800 30-second commercials, and then suddenly they have to watch half an hour and it’s hard for them to switch gears.”

The final Bronze went to John St. for its “Exfeariential” self-promotional (and self-depricating for the industry) video. It debuted at strategy‘s Agency of the Year show, and makes fun of an advertising trend whereby marketers scare consumers in order to sell their wares and gain viral buzz.

Martin said he had to fight hard for this spot among the jury. “They’re watching case studies, and then they see another case study, so they think it’s real at first. And some judges think [the agency is] making fun of us because it’s mocking what we do every day. I love that piece, I think it’s really funny and to get a Bronze is still amazing.”

There were two Grand Prix, both no strangers to the winners’ podium.

The television commercial Grand Prix went to U.K.-based retailer Harvey Nichols for its holiday campaign “Sorry I Spent it All on Myself” by Adam&EveDDB London. It centred on the insight that people sometimes would rather buy things for themselves than shell out cash on holiday gifts for loved ones. A TV spot featured people spending large amounts on gifts for themselves and spending sparingly on presents for others, like branded Harvey Nichols paper clips and a plastic door stop.

The Grand Prix for online video went to Forsman & Bodenfors in Sweden for its “Epic Split” spot for Volvo Trucks, the campaign having previously picked up a Grand Prix in Cyber.  The now-famous vid features Jean-Claude Van Damme performing a death-defying split between two trucks to demonstrate their steering ability.  

Film Craft:

Canada could have used a pep talk or two to help bolster morale after a week of slow medal pick up in Cannes; preferably from the actor in DDB Vancouver’s “Pep Talk” spot for Netflix Canada. The cleverly written coach’s speech moved the Craft Lion jury enough to grant the spot a Bronze Lion at tonight’s final award show.

Produced by Partners Film, Cycle Media and Wave Sound Productions, the spot begins in a locker room, with a coach attempting to pump his team up for the game by “quoting” a speech that’s used in a movie on Netflix. He uses it as an example of the kind of speech he’d like to give, but ends up not giving at all, with the tagline “You got to get to get it.”

“It’s so straight in its idea, and it was really well executed, really great casting,” said Brian Carmody,  managing partner and co-founder of production company Smuggler and Craft Film jury president. “It’s not a very short piece, so the writing needs to continue, continue, continue and it just got better and better.”

The jury gave away 16 Golds in this category, however no Grand Prix. When asked by a press member what kind of a message they were hoping to send to the industry by not awarding a top prize, Carmody said it was not meant to shine a negative light on this year’s batch of winners. He said there were more Gold winners than they had anticipated, and after several hours of discussion, they couldn’t justify choosing one over another.

Titanium and Integrated:

Canada didn’t have any shortlisted work in the Titanium and Integrated categories.

The Titanium Grand Prix went to “Sound of Honda/Ayrton Senna 1989″ for the Honda Motor Co. by Dentsu Tokyo. It set out to recreate the world’s fasted Formula One lap set by driver Ayrton Senna in 1989. Using driving data that was collected that day, they brought back the sound of the engine and brought the experience to life by adding lights that followed the car’s path along the racetrack.

The Grand Prix in Integrated went to the campaign that appears to be the festival’s biggest winner, U.K.-based retailer Harvey Nichols for its holiday campaign “Sorry I Spent it All on Myself” by Adam&EveDDB London.


The Grand Prix in Innovation went to Megafon Moscow, Axis Moscow and Asif Khan Ltd London for its Megafaces Pavilion at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. The piece took selfies to a new level, using a large 3D LED board with mechanical actuators that act like a giant pin art toy to bring photos of passersby to life at 3,500 times the size of their actual faces. People could get on the big board by taking a selfie at one of seven nearby pavilions.

Innovation jury president Tom Bedecarré, chairman of AKQA and president, WPP Ventures says the group, which included Brian Wong, founder and CEO of Kiip as the Canadian judge, was looking for work that included breakthrough technology, wasn’t a one-off execution and was empowering creativity. He added that the jury was looking more for the future marketing potential of the projects rather than how it might currently be moving the bottom line.

Wong said the future potential of the Grand Prix winner reminded him of the technology behind IMAX, which was clunky in its infancy, but is now widely used around the world.

In all four projects were awarded with Lions for the second-edition of the Innovation category.

The jury liked Canadian shortlisted entry Bublcam because of its implications for consumers, who would be able to buy the 360-degree cameras and use them in their own lives, says Wong. He added that he was extremely bullish on the tech behind the project, regardless of the fact that it was the lone Canadian project shortlisted.

Finally, the Grand Prix for Good went to the “Sweetie” campaign by Lemz Amsterdam for Terre des Hommes Netherlands.