By Eleftheria Parpis
The Cannes festival today disqualified an Ogilvy Mexico campaign for Scrabble that had been selected for the Press Grand Prix, because the same ads had been entered into the award show last year. The prize went instead to AlmapBBDO in Brazil for a Billboard magazine campaign.
Festival organizers made the switch after Adweek editors noticed the Scrabble work had been posted to industry blogs in 2008. Cannes officials confirmed the campaign had been submitted last year, and promptly disqualified it. (To be eligible for this year's awards, work had to first run between March 1, 2009, and April 30, 2010.)
The winning Billboard campaign featured portraits of famous musicians created out of small, pixel-like images of other musicians who had influenced them. For example, a Marilyn Manson portrait was composed of tiny images of KISS, Ozzy Osbourne, the Cure and Cher. The tagline: "Music. See what it's made of."
The disqualified Scrabble campaign (see the work here) emphasized the importance of vowels in the board game by devoting each ad to a single vowel. Each ad then told an entire short story (in Spanish) with words featuring only that vowel and no other. (For example, the "A" story only used the vowel "A" along with the consonants.)
Ogilvy Mexico creative director Jose Montalvo said there was confusion about the entry rules and that his agency thought it could enter the Scrabble work again since it wasn't shortlisted last year. Last year, he said, the agency did not include an explanation of the work with the entry. "It's impossible to translate to English. This year we attached a better explanation of the idea," he said.
Reached by Adweek via telephone in the late afternoon, jury president Mark Tutssel said he was unaware of any problem with the entry and would investigate it with the festival organizers. They subsequently confirmed that the work first ran in October 2008 and was entered in last year's Cannes Lions.
"We're very sorry about this whole situation," Montalvo said. "We understand the festival rules, and we don't have any problem with the festival's decision."
The jury said the Billboard campaign, originally the runner-up for the top prize, is a fine example of art direction, where visuals carry the communication. "Billboard was exquisite, very modern, eye catching, perfect for the brand," Tutssel said. "It got to the real purpose of the magazine. Each detail added up to highly rewarding experience." The Billboard campaign also included a separate interactive element (outside of the Press purview) in which people could make posters of themselves using a digital poster.
Out of 4,820 entries, the jury awarded 11 gold, 21 silver and 39 bronze Lions. The winners, said Tutssel, demonstrate a "renaissance" in print advertising. "Print may be one of the oldest mediums of all, but it's still a fresh medium to break through in today's modern world," he said. "Great print work elicits not only emotion but participation. It invites you into the ad itself. It requires you to step into the brand and interact with the brand. Great advertising treats you with intelligence and rewards you accordingly."
Tutssel added: "We were looking for examples of what the craft brought to the idea and elevated the idea. All of the work we chose was beautiful in execution and was an immersive experience that was truly rewarding. … I know we're migrating to different forms, but as long as we still read newspapers and magazines, we have to produce world-class communication in this channel."
The U.S. had a poor showing at the Press awards. Only one campaign from a U.S. agency was honored—a VH1 campaign from Young & Rubicam in New York, which won two silver Lions.