The rivalry of Web vs. TV commercials ended in a tie for the top prize at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival.
A British TV ad with a drumming gorilla for Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate and a series of three-minute Internet videos for Microsoft's Halo 3 sci-fi video game both won Grand Prix as the world's best ads this year among 4,500 entries in the coveted "Film" ad category at the week-long competition.
It was the first time at the ad industry's top annual event that Web-only video was eligible to compete with commercials for TV and cinema use. It had been seen as something of a showdown between traditional and digital media.
The Grand Prix were awarded at Saturday night's closing ceremonies for the festival, at which agencies and marketers had entered nearly 30,000 ads from 85 countries for prizes in 10 categories.
The gorilla ad was a 90-second commercial airing on prime-time TV. The Halo videos were an element of a complex multimedia campaign.
"They are two very different pieces of film," says Craig Davis, global chief creative officer for JWT London. He headed the Film jury that also gave out 21 Gold, 33 Silver and 52 Bronze awards (nearly a third for U.S. ads). "It was fantastic work in both spaces, and it seemed a little unfair to push one through the gate at the expense of the other."
The advertising for the Microsoft Xbox game, which has sold nearly 10 million copies since its debut last fall, also on Saturday won the Integrated Grand Prix for multimedia campaigns and a Gold Lion in Film for the TV commercial. The complex promotion spanned Web, TV and cinema advertising, including a real-world Museum of Humanity, with a diorama of an epic humans vs. aliens battle.
"This is a tribute to imagination," says Marcio Moreira, a vice chairman with McCann World Group, which created the Halo effort with sister agency T.A.G. "This is a huge communication idea that crosses every discipline."
Also on the closing night, a Titanium Grand Prix for "best new idea" went to a digital clock "widget" for Japanese clothing retailer Uniqlo. The "Uniqlok" shows the time and video of dancers in Uniqlo clothes in sync with the seconds. The widget can be downloaded for use as a PC screensaver, a mobile screen, an embed in a Facebook page, etc. The campaign also won an online ad Grand Prix.
"This is the new standard," says Mark Tutssel, chief creative officer, Leo Burnett Worldwide, Chicago, who led a jury of nine ad experts who reviewed 432 entries for the Titanium and Integrated awards. "It represents what the industry will be" doing in the future.
The Cadbury chocolate ad by Fallon London is set to the 1980s Phil Collins anthem In the Air Tonight. Anticipation builds as the gorilla, sitting at a drum kit, gets ready for the crashing drums section of the moody song, famous for Collins' drum and drum machine work. The film has been viewed more than 10 million times on YouTube.
"It created a buzz like there hasn't been in quite a while in London," says Chris Willingham, a Fallon London partner. "We just wanted to make people smile and have that warm feeling, like eating a piece of Cadbury chocolate." Other highlights:
•Candy kicks. A Gold Lion went to a TV ad for Skittles by TBWA/Chiat/Day. It shows a guy who turns everything he touches to Skittles. More than a million Skittles were used for a stunt where he touches a desk, and it collapses into scattering candy.
•Agency on top. BBDO, named Agency of the Year, won more than 10 awards, including two Grand Prix for its work on HBO's multimedia Voyeur Project sales promotion, built around the idea of spying on people in eight apartments. BBDO also won Film Gold for AT&T wireless cinema ads in which director Martin Scorsese reminds patrons to turn off phones.
•Coke at Cannes. Coke won a Silver Lion for a 60-second commercial that aired in the Super Bowl. In the ad, cartoon characters are giant parade balloons that battle for a giant balloon bottle of Coke.
•Procter & Gamble. P&G walked away with Gold, Silver and Bronze Lions in film for Crest and Old Spice commercials. A series of Crest ads, which won Gold, show smiles easing awkward moments. Old Spice ads won a Silver and a Bronze.