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George Parker of Adscam: my Top Tips for Cannes-A-Boola

Ah yes, once more the Cannes “International Festival of Creativity” is almost upon us. Now with more categories than attendees, everyone gets to take home a Zirconium Lion to justify their outrageous expenses which were probably blown on Peruvian Marching Powder, Cuban Cohibas and France’s finest Hookers. Winners will include uber expensive Brazilian ads, all produced in English and really bad Indian ads that were never produced, let alone run.

Mimosas will flow down the gutters of the Croisette and Consultants will descend like vultures, hiring massive yachts to entertain prospective clients whilst purring in their ears about the magic of big data, AI, VR, ER and anything else that involves digital and social wankiness. Nary a word will be heard about creativity.

Consultancies are raising their profile in other ways on the French Riviera this year with a significant presence planned for the 2017 Cannes-A-Boola. IBM iX has secured a cabana that is 2.5 times larger than its space last year, and has plans to showcase its work in such esoteric areas as design thinking and brain manipulation. Deloitte Digital is sponsoring the Cannes Young Lions School, (Shouldn’t they be “Cubs”) which includes courses and competitions for creative professionals ages 18 to 30. At 18, I had just discovered what my superb rogering equipment was for. Hopefully there’ll be a few ad agencies desperate enough to be poncing their passé wares.

OK, now I’ve got that off my chest, Stephen has asked several of MAA’s sterling contributors to forecast this year’s possible winners. In my usual curmudgeonly style, I have decided to take a different tack. Ha!!! I shall call out the three agencies that I consider should be declared winners based not on this year’s toss of the coin, but on their consistent track record. Regular readers of AdScam will not be surprised by my trifecta.

Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. For 35 years, these guys have been producing outstanding work. I fully expect them to be doing it for the next 35 years. A couple of years ago, Jeff Goodby (left) wrote a piece in the Wall Street Journal explaining that this Cannes Festival would be his last. For a guy who has won more awards, sat on more juries, and even chaired them more than anybody still standing upright, this is a jaw dropping declaration. But one that I wholeheartedly agree with.

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To find out why, read the whole piece… Here’s a taster..Nowadays, it is more like a plumbers’ or industrial roofing convention, after which I go home and begin to explain to a friend that there is an amazing new fiberglass insulation technology that will enable us to cost-effectively sheathe surfaces exposed to the sun and make them blah blah blah can I get you another drink?”

Even though Jeff may not be in attendance, I’m sure GS+P will continue to win Lions up the arse for a long time to come… Here’s my tip for this year… ‘Dreams of Dali,’ and the brilliant spot, ‘Machines’ for StubHub. More importantly, whenever I’m in San Francisco, Jeff gets me pissed.


Droga5. You have to doff your hat to the way Dave (and Ted) have built a superior agency from scratch in the last ten years. Not only creating great advertising, but also finding ways to reach the audience that best answers their clients’ needs in a way that will get them to encourage the hoi polloi go out and buy shit… None of that customer experience bollocks. Although, the ‘No Bollocks’ campaign for Newcastle Brown Ale a couple of years ago was a master stroke.

Speaking of which, the work they did for Chobani was also masterful… unlike the latest iteration from Weiden+Kennedy Portland, which continues to slip down the slope of cheesiness with its latest effort for Chobani yoghurt. In a new campaign ‘Believe in Food’ Portlandians play music on electronic fruit. It’s a blatant “homage” to Coke’s famous ‘Hilltop’ anthem spot. The multi ethnic, multi racial chorus didn’t even have anyone in a wheelchair. They should forget food and nuns piss booze and stick to sneakers.

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Moving on, my vote for Droga5’s Dylithium Lion goes to ‘Made the Johnsonville Way.’ It allows the essence of the brand to be demonstrated via the people who work there. As Dave would say, “It’s customer experience via worker experience, all in the name of superior Snags.” I also love the ‘Baywatch slow-mo Marathon’ film. Fucking hilarious. More importantly, Whenever I’m in New York, Dave, and Ted get me pissed.

Wieden+Kennedy London. OK having hammered W+K Portland, I have to admit I am a big fan of the London office, and now that Neil Christie has been named as the OberSturmBanFuhrer of the entire empire, perhaps we shall see stuff from the far outposts that doesn’t rely on expensive athletes for the world’s most expensive sneakers. Never forget, W+K London were the guys that came up with the classic and never repeated Honda ‘Cog.’ I cannot imagine the ball-crunching number of times it took to produce this one take gem that will live forever.

However, talking of this year, I know that some old farts (not me) think that the ‘Food Dancing’ work they have recently produced for Sainsbury’s devalues the distinguished work the immortal David Abbot did for years for that client… bollocks… It shows that smart agencies, blessed with smart clients, are courageous enough to acknowledge that sometimes you have to move on to the next stage… As long as it’s not big data, AI, VR, ER and anything else that involves digital and social. Ha, nothing wrong with repetition. Nice stuff, guys. More importantly, whenever I’m in London, Neil gets me pissed.

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About George Parker

George Parker has spent 40 years on Madison Avenue. He’s won Lions, CLIOs, EFFIES, and the David Ogilvy Award.
His blog is adscam.typepad.com, which is required reading for those looking for a gnarly view of the world’s second oldest profession.” His latest book, Confessions of a Mad Man, makes the TV show Mad Men look like Sesame Street.

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