No Cannes do…

Prospects look bleak, but it’s a lot­tery

Finweek English Edition - - Advertising & Marketing - TONY KOENDERMAN tonyk@fin­week.co.za

THE WORLD’S TOP ad­ver­tis­ing fes­ti­val – the Cannes Lions – is open­ing for its 56th an­nual orgy of con­grat­u­la­tory back­slap­ping, ad-watch­ing and hob­nob­bing in a de­cid­edly sub­dued mood. The Olympics of ad­ver­tis­ing has re­ceived 20% fewer en­tries this year than it did in the record year of 2008. With fewer hope­ful en­trants and travel bud­gets cur­tailed, at­ten­dance at the week­long grabfest – usu­ally around 10 000 – is also likely to be de­pressed: by as much as 40%, ac­cord­ing to some es­ti­mates.

There’s been a note of des­per­a­tion in the fes­ti­val mar­ket­ing team’s at­tempts to keep the num­bers up by em­pha­sis­ing how im­por­tant cre­ativ­ity is in com­bat­ing an eco­nomic down­turn, ex­tend­ing en­try dead­lines or de­vis­ing cheaper travel and ac­com­mo­da­tion pack­ages.

But there’s also a de­gree of anger in the ad agency world that lit­tle sac­ri­fice ap­pears to have been made by the Cannes Lions fes­ti­val it­self. En­try fees are out­ra­geously high, es­pe­cially for soft-cur­rency coun­tries. At an av­er­age of around €385/en­try, South African agen­cies have spent more than R3m on their en­tries.

Based on other in­ter­na­tional awards so far, SA’s hopes for awards also look lean. South African agen­cies have won 40% fewer tro­phies at the first two of the four ma­jor in­ter­na­tional fes­ti­vals en­dorsed by the Creative Cir­cle. At The One Show, our tally was less than half last year’s; at the Clios, the score was down by a fifth. But Cannes has a way of con­found­ing the pun­dits.

SA re­mains the only na­tion on the African con­ti­nent that can be taken se­ri­ously at this event. Its en­tries are in the same ball­park as big­ger and richer na­tions (see ta­ble) and are nearly seven times the vol­ume from the rest of Africa and the Mid­dle East com­bined.

The Cannes fes­ti­val, which started out as a way of pro­mot­ing cin­ema ad­ver­tis­ing, has ex­panded over re­cent years to in­clude just about ev­ery mar­ket­ing dis­ci­pline. With the in­tro­duc­tion this year of the Pub­lic Re­la­tions Lions, there are 11 cat­e­gories.

As al­ways, it’s danger­ous to make pre­dic­tions about Cannes’ re­sults. But one of the best SA en­tries is Lowe Bull’s Meet Wally’s Heart cam­paign for Flora mar­garine, which has just won a D&AD Yel­low Pen­cil. While high­light­ing Flora’s health prop­er­ties it cli­maxed with the world’s first real-time live broad­cast of open-heart surgery. Flora in­vested R1,4m in the ini­tia­tive and re­ceived me­dia cov­er­age val­ued at R80m.

A TV com­mer­cial with huge pub­lic ap­peal was the doc­u­men­tary-style story about the three­legged chee­tah that loves the vi­car­i­ous sen­sa­tion of speed it gets from trav­el­ling in a Golf 6. It re­ceived mixed re­ac­tion from creative ri­vals,

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