Angela Natividad's Live & Uncensored!

29 June 2009

Cannes Lions: Real Winnars in Film, Interactive and Titanium; Perspective on Our Horizons


Saturday night: the show to end all shows, the one people actually queue in line for. (Though markedly less so than in previous years, as tweeted by Influencia.) And while recession-spawned conservatism was accounted for, the jury hailed from all corners of the globe and generated cheers -- like rock stars.

Saw some awesome work over the next two hours, but it remains a shock who ultimately won what.

There was a lot of talk about how Cannes Lions '09 differed from previous years. I'd say there was a greater focus on how efforts addressed users directly, although creativity remains a big part of that. And given who won the Grands Prix for Titanium and Integrated, it may be the first year agencies must take into account that the user has become a legitimate advertiser himself.

This is no death-of-the-agency foretelling; it's simply a call to listen more closely and respond more intuitively to the crowd. We have spent so many years trying to contrive artificial emotional connections between products and people; it is only natural that, now that they're able, consumers demand to know why those connections should exist in the first place.

What does your company stand for? Does it listen and respond to me? Crucially, is it as willing to incorporate me into its message as I am to incorporate it into my life?

Grand Prix recipients, and a wee bit o' work, listed below.

For FILM: "Carousel" for Philips Cinema 21:9 by Tribal DDB Amsterdam.

This ad depicted a frozen heist-gone-wrong where you intuited the story as the camera panned. Online, you could hone in on parts of the film to see behind-the-scenes material, and manipulate the soundtrack.

Users could also change formats to 21:9 to witness the merits of the film quality: the caked makeup on the clowns, wrinkles on the cops, and that incredible moment where the guy flies through the glass, and you can see, through the shards, the different textures of his antagonist's face.

For TITANIUM/INTEGRATED: The Obama/Biden presidential campaign, which made sound use of all media and is perhaps best-known for turning its voting public into fanatic advertisers and evangelists.

That Obama's effort won both Titanium and Integrated Grands Prix was a shocker, but you could certainly see evidence of its influence in other ads throughout the week. One reporter told me that over 50 campaigns across all shortlists incorporated Obama in some way; "The Great Schlep," a Droga5 effort to get more geriatric Jewish Floridans to vote for Obama, won a Gold for Direct, for example.

And this piece, by Charles Stone III of the infamous Budweiser "Wassup" campaign from 2000, received separate recognition at the beginning of the awards ceremony on Saturday. (It won no awards because it didn't meet formal criteria.)

'Til next year.

25 June 2009

Cannes Lions: More Ambient Guilt Lubrication.

Hey, Cannes Lions delegates! Have a big heaping slice of buzzkill, brought to you by Weisser Ring!

I get that these are all for a good cause. Given the appropriate context, these particular pieces are damn stirring. But given that this image ornaments the exterior of the Palais and these ads plaster the interior, you gotta wonder: which sadistic member of the ad festival planning committee picked out this year's damaged kids décor?

Cannes Lions: Soaking in Saint Antoine with Shannon

The other night I had dinner with Shannon Stephaniuk of Glossy Inc. Because she's an old-school Ad Fest attendee, she brought me up the narrow, picturesque Rue Saint Antoine -- one of the staples of Old Town Cannes, where few fresh ad folk venture.

Ended up having dinner on the terrasse at Le Chaperon Rouge, where foie gras comes cooked and snails are extra-salty. We also experienced more than our fair share of pupil-dilating Priceless! moments, two of which I managed to record.

(Granted, they both happen to be street-guys-for-profit moments, but that's life in the jungle for you.)

Brazilian acrobatics:

Gypsy-crooned La Vie en Rose. Also, Shannon seizes this opportunity to dispel a suspicion that the Perlorian Brothers' Michael Gelfand has been floating:

"Angela, we're fuckin' lucky!" Shannon says, leaning back as far as her stool will permit her. "It's beautiful and we're having wine at dusk in Cannes."

Because I can't think of anything more profound than that, and possibly also because I belong behind a monitor and not engaging with the public, I go, "....Yup."

Cannes Lions: Real Winnars in Cyber, Design and Press


Last night was the Cannes Lions awards event for Design, Press and Cyber efforts. As always, for the full list of winners, go hithery-dithery. But here are the Grand Prix winners for each category:

For DESIGN: "Paper Battlefield" for Nike Hong Kong by McCann Worldgroup/Causeway Bay.

For PRESS: "We Are Animals," that creepy bejeaned-human-meets-carnal-instinct campaign by FRED & FARID/Paris for Wrangler.

For CYBER: "Best Job in the World" -- which is seriously cleaning up this year -- by Cumminsnitro/Brisbane for Tourism Queensland.

"Eco:Drive" by AKQA/London for Fiat also scored a Cyber Grand Prix, as did "Why So Serious?" for Warner Bros.' The Dark Knight. The latter campaign is a typical piece of elaborate genius by the folks at 42 Entertainment/Pasadena, whose every project is not so much advertising as it is grand oeuvre.

This isn't hapless gushing; see what the agency did for Nine Inch Nails and Halo 2. It tanks a coupla hours digging through all this material, but you'll be glad you did. 42 will inspire you in ways you didn't know you could be.

But the real story of the week is Cumminsnitro, the "little agency that could" operating out of Brisbane. "Best Job in the World" also won Grands Prix for Direct and PR.

The notion of turning one lucky winner into the king of a chain of islands was a simple idea that stems from the fantastic and also contributes to an eco-friendly cause.

What sensitive outcast kid hasn't fantasized about being pulled out of school by two black-suited mystery men that reveal he's royalty? Better still, this wasn't just a decadent tiara giveaway; "Best Job" ties a lofty title, Caretaker of the Barrier Reefs, to lofty responsibility. Little wonder the effort sparked a global feel-good current whose impact was infinitely bigger than its seeds.

24 June 2009

Cannes Lions: Going Gold for Georgia

At 72 Croisette (the so-called Gutter Bar) last night, Shannon Stephaniuk introduced me to the members of Ogilvy Stockholm, which won a Gold Lion for its work for UNA Sweden.

Their objective was to raise funds to support the war victims of Georgia (the country, not the state); and to do this, they spoke with the locals and gathered small, specific and personal items that belonged to people affected by the war.

See Shoes, Sweater and Sheet; I found the sight of those scorched, warped items physically painful, and the stories still more moving.

It's my strong feeling that the work deserved a Grand Prix, but apparently you can't win one if the effort is nonprofit. Weird logics. In any case, I hung out awhile and talked to the guys about the work, what they did and how it made them feel in general.

Video interviews below. Given that it's the Gutter Bar at 2:00 AM and not, say, an Embassy lobby, try to bear with the background noise. Better yet, imagine you're there, stumbling around with your third vodka tonic, playing guess-the-accent with your group of chums-for-the-week.

Art Director Attila Kiraly:

Copywriters Björn Persson And Mikael Ström:

(FYI: Videos may be down for the first hour due to scheduled Vimeo maintenance.)

Cannes Lions: Real Winnars in Radio, Media and Outdoor


Last night was the ceremony for Radio, Media and Outdoor -- not very exciting stuff, but you get a chance to review highly localized work you wouldn't otherwise be exposed to. Always good to remember what ad life is like outside internets.

Here are the Grand Prix winners for each category. Hopefully by now I don't need to tell you where to go to see the full list of oversized bookend recipients.

For RADIO: Net#Work BBDO/Johannesburg wins Grands Prix for "Dancer," "Dog" and "Ferret" -- three radio pieces for Virgin Atlantic Airlines, South Africa. Wanna hear? Listeny-listen.

For MEDIA: JWT Japan/Tokyo scores for "Kit Kat Mail 2009" on behalf of Nestle's Kit-Kat.

For OUTDOOR: TBWA\Hunt\Lascaris Johannesburg wins Grands Prix for "Fight the Regime," "Cheaper than Money," "Trillion Dollar Billboard," "Z$250,000,000" and "Wallpaper" -- on behalf of The Zimbabwean. The campaign's objective was, in great part, to demonstrate the ridiculous rate of inflation affecting Zimbabwean currency as a result of the current regime.

We covered one execution in which trillions of Zimbabwe dollars were used to wallpaper a billboard. Trillion dollar bills were also used as flyers. See the rest of the work; if you're curious about the roots of Z's current political situation, read some colourful background.

23 June 2009

Cannes Lions: Talkin' the Twitter Biz-nass

Biz Stone's Twitter talk this afternoon was met with a full auditorium, people clamoring for places to park cameras and laptops so they could livetweet questions in real time.

Kind of a neat format. Stone addressed questions as they appeared under hashtag #hkcannes, the results of which were projected onto a screen. Two problems with this method:

1) Wifi outside the press room isn't accessible for free, meaning those that livetweeted from inside the room were either paying for use or mobiling it up. Questions were never taken directly from audience members, raising their hands, for example.

2) Questions were still for the most part selected by a Hill & Knowlton rep. I'm pretty sure the Oracle of Delphi had a less formidable filtering system.

Stone talked a bit about Twitter's birth, which I'm sure will become the stuff of online legend, so I don't really need to go into it. (Hey look, here it is.) One point of interest: his partner, Jack Dorsey, conceived the idea out of a fascination with AIM status updates.

Then he told a bunch of heartrending stories about how the real-time updating system got journos out of jail in foreign countries, kept people abreast of earthquakes and wildfire locations, gave hipsters a way to convey to each other which SXSW sessions suck, etc.

The hivemind behaviour born out of these instances of Twitter adoption yields zen inspiration to Stone: he likens it to watching birds fly in formation, using instincts to drive activity that seems perfectly coordinated.

Talk was also peppered with proverbs, which appeared above us like pop philosophy at a new age seminar. My favourite is "creativity is a renewable resource" -- something that came to Stone when he was asked, once, to come up with a five-word speech.

Here are a couple of videos of the QA portion, focusing on how Twitter expects to demonstrate its long-term viability by developing a business model.

On that little "definitions" section in right-hand Twitter nav:

On monetizing Twitter:

Nothing you probably haven't already heard. Obviously there's a way to shoehorn sponsorship or premium service opportunities into a site where product/movie reviews and brand opinions are solicited and freely given as generously as on Twitter. For a meatier description on how Twitter can add an e-commerce angle to its value prop, however, check out what one of its investors recently had to say.

22 June 2009

Cannes Lions: Ronald McDonald Cameo Ignites Deep-Seated Clown Rage

Clowns give me mixed feelings. Having watched Killer Klowns from Outer Space at too young an age, they terrify me. And having seen a clown dejectedly make unwanted balloon animals at a party where all the kids were too old, they also make me inexpressibly sad.

Anyway, Ronald McDonald was outside the Palais today, wearing jetpacks of all things. He was doing this big dog and pony show for whoever reared a camera in his direction. Seeing him made me frightened, and when I'm scared I get mad, hence the venomous video.

Afterward I tried taking incriminating potshots of him leaping around and being generally objectionable. But then he looked at me -- right at me -- and gave me that Sad Clown Look. And my heart exploded into tiny little glass pieces. Every time I look at the picture below, I want to cry.

Clowns: gift-wrapped radiators of fear and melancholy. This is something a Happy Meal can't fix.

Cannes Lions: A Handful of Real Winnars in PR, Promotion and Direct.


This year was the first year Cannes recognized PR's role in getting a brand message across, so PR people just about creamed themselves getting here. Even Hill & Knowlton couldn't help but say something smug about it before passing the mic to Biz Stone this afternoon.

Yeah, you guys are in the door, woo woo.

We're not gonna sit out and type the full list of trophy bait; that's what the Cannes Lions awards subsite is for. But here are the Grand Prix winners in all three categories, and a few nice PR Lion winners, too.

For PROMO: "Yubari" for Yubari Resort (Japan), by Beacon Communications/Tokyo.

I didn't really understand the beauty of this campaign until it was explained to me in full. Apparently Yubari used to be a miner town, and when the mines closed and all the miners left, the city was hurting for cash.

Beacon was enlisted to address the problem. In its research of Yubari it discovered something compelling: that its inhabitants do not divorce. Ever. For whatever reason, probably having to do with that it was damn-near deserted, marriages there maintain a 100% success rate.

Silver bullet in tow, Beacon immediately positioned Yubari as the place to insure your happily ever after. The campaign was ridiculously successful in the first year, with newlyweds angling from far and wide to visit. And that's how a small minor town became Japan's City of Love.

For DIRECT and PR: "Best Job in the World" for Tourism Queensland (Australia), by Cumminsnitro. Well-deserved -- this was truly ambitious work from an agency that was hardly on the radar before this year.

So there you have it. Now see below for some nice PR Lion notables.

"Love Distance" for Sagami Rubber by GT/Tokyo got a PR Lion:

As did "One Thousand Casmurros" by Livead/Sao Paulo for TV Globo because it was just beautifully conceptualized and executed:

And the "World's First Ephemeral Museum" by Leo Burnett Lisboa/Arc Worldwide for Diageo Portugal:

21 June 2009

Chanel Paris-Moscou

Was walking on La Croisette when I saw this display for Chanel's Paris-Moscou line. I love how tight-jawed the models look -- so grist-of-life Russian -- and if you look closely at the items, you can see Soviet Bloc-inspired flourishes. Par exemple: the gloves on the white-clad model below have shiny rows of buttons with geometrical red, black and gold designs.

If you're just that bored and have no idea why I find Paris-Moscou so compelling, read my gush-fest about the Constructivist style, which tends to rear its head when economic times get tough and people grow grim and financially/aesthetically discreet.

Unlike Saks Fifth Avenue, which is sort of campy with it, Lagerfeld reinvigorates Constructivist motifs with elegance and force.

Cannes Lions: The Calm Before the Tempest

Just wanted to do a quick update before Cannes consumes me and I lose my will to blog while sober.

Arrived yesterday: five-hour train ride from Gare de Lyon to the Cannes station, which appears to be dead-center of nowhere. You can immediately tell who came from the city because we're all still in coats, looking grimy and sordid.

First thing you learn about the south of France in June: can't wear anything here but cotton, linen and flip-flops. Anything else will be soaked in unsavoury bodily oils after the first half-hour; forget about jewelry, and makeup is damn near out of the question.

Not that that's stopping anyone from putting their most garish feet forward. I guess it's apt that a city so humid is the playplace of so many frosted housewives. Over sunburns, uncomfortably tight tanktops and platinum blonde coifs, the telltale glint of diamonds, Swarovski crystals (on FLIP FLOPS?!) and gold is willfully conspicuous.

Checked in at my hotel, about a kilometer from the convention center, then walked down to the Palais des Festivals to get my press pass. It's situated right off La Croisette, the prettiest place in the world to have to travel for work. Potshots of the view:

The Palais was eerily devoid of people -- the way I like a conference hall -- but zealously outfitted in the gold and royal purple that defines the Cannes Lions theme. Check out the staircase skin:

Flanking the staircase on either side are two ultra-contemporary Coca-Cola vending machines. People are drawn to these things like moths to flame, and I soon realize why: they're touch-screen, for a start, and get this: all they do is give free samples of either Coke, Coke Zero or Diet Coke.

It's amazing to me that every time someone stumbles uncertainly through the ridiculously simple steps 1, 2 and 3, a new bottle appears, like magic. You actually wonder if there's a Happiness Factory inside, producing product in real-time. And right before dispensing your ice-cold sample, a little tune plays.

It's the most enchanting pair of vending machines in the entire universe, sparking indiscriminate wonder among far-flung attendees.

Coke-sponsored Happiness™ in action:

They're working in full force today too. I haven't seen them run out even once so far, which will significantly damage their mystique, but it's still early in the week.

There wasn't much more to do last night, so I had drinks at La Scala and dinner at Pavillon Croisette then turned in for the night, buoyed to sleep by a marathon of Bones dubbed in French, my hotel room floor littered with ad festival swag.

Spending most of today in the biggest press lounge I've ever seen, working under a current of many different languages. Cannes Lions is tight about wifi: this is the only room where you can get any for free, and a meaty guard stands watch at the door to check press passes, which come equipped with photos so we can't hanky-panky around and pass them to friends.

Probably gonna be next to impossible to liveTweet sessions -- not to say this anal-retentiveness takes away from any of the territory's kitschy romance. After checking my pass and letting me by, the guard sauntered off and started humming La Vie en Rose. It was one of those "living-a-charming-cliché" moments.

Real-Time Iran Elections News's Robin Sloan cobbled together an Iran elections news aggregator on his personal website. Among other things (including a dedicated Current section, of course), it streams the latest from the NYT Lede blog, the top five related material from Tweetmeme, and "Recent tweets from reliable sources" -- nice add, thar.

There's also a skimmable and occasionally stirring series of photos from DayLife.

Sloan is soliciting for bugs, so if you catch any you can hit him up @robinsloan. And if you're going, "How do I make my own nifty curating site?", this is probably a good time to learn about Yahoo! Pipes, a handy dandy modular service that lets you grab and combine feeds for sites, widgets and the like.

Cannes Lions: Not the Funnest Welcome into Advertising's Sandbox

First ad I saw upon entering the Palais. Where better than a sweltering, decadent vacation spot to remind us of the dire consequences of climate change?

Somewhat less depressing than the wrist slitter cause ad that appeared on BART trains during New Years Eve '06.

19 June 2009

If We Were Taught Chem This Way...

...the way we were taught the elaborate mechanics of freaks, geeks, queen bees and Asian Pride™, I might have actually learned something.

16 June 2009

Inklust #5: The Daily Baptism

I am the cleanest woman in the world, not from love of cleanliness but from a passion for water. The same passion will make it impossible for me to die anywhere but in an Arab city by the sea. Water is the first element. My first element. I felt the truth of this on my skin, even before I read it in books. Even before reading this Hadith from the Prophet to his daughter Fatima, on the eve of her wedding to 'Ali ibn Ali Talib: "Wash yourself ever with water; thus, when your husband looks at you, he shall delight in you."

I washed myself with water; thus, when I looked at myself, I was delighted.

-- The Proof of the Honey, Salwa Al Neimi

About the image: "Young Lady Bathing" by Rafael.

What the dickens is "Inklust"? Boy am I glad you asked. Here's the manifesto: part I and part II.

15 June 2009

Futzing with Gchat Vid Chat.

Witness, ye, as Chelsi and I bring our occasionally antagonistic Gchat relationship to a whole new level: AUDIOVISUAL.

The verdict on Gchat Video: not much laggage or pixellation, and it took just a couple of minutes to download the necessary software. Feedback isn't as bad as on Skype, plus it's neat when we full-screen because it's like she's sitting right in front of my face, closer than LIFE. Which makes it incredibly startling when one of us screams suddenly or betrays an I-think-you're-full-of-shit expression.

Also, I got to show her:
  • The cut I got from a Saturday morning accident involving a knife and strawberry jam
  • My saucy white French Band-Aids (okay, not Band-Aids; pansements) with silver on the padding (for better healing!)
  • How the vaseline here comes IN A TUBE!
This is the kind of stuff technology enables overseas friends to do.

Inklust #4: The Thinking Meat

[Humans] live in a world where it's words and not deeds that have power, where the ultimate skill is mastery of language. This is a terrible thing because basically we are primates who've been programmed to eat, sleep, reproduce, conquer and make our territory safe, and the ones who are most gifted at that, the most animal types among us, always get screwed by the others, the fine talkers, despite these latter being incapable of defending their own garden or bringing a rabbit home for dinner or procreating properly.

Humans live in a world where the weak are dominant. This is a terrible insult to our animal nature, a sort of perversion or a deep contradiction.

-- The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery

Image credit: Kazuya Akimoto.

What the dickens is "Inklust"? Boy am I glad you asked. Here's the manifesto: part I and part II.

07 June 2009

Vive les Mamans !

Mother's Day is the second-largest gift-giving day in the United States (behind Christmas), and for good reason: last year it was rated the most personally important holiday among women with children.

Which explains why my mom flies off the handle whenever I forget.

This year I get the mildly jarring pleasure of sharing my birthday with Mother's Day in France. (Chelsi: "Heh. When you're old, your kids are totally gonna double up your gifts.")

Bonne Fête des Mères, doting dames. Here's a sampling of the Mother's Day ads I saw around Paris this week. (If they're any authority, la mère française typique is no baby-swaddling Rosie, I'll tell you what.)

(courtesy of le_monde_de_maude.)

And my favourite...

05 June 2009

With This Ruling, I Thee Wed

Back in the Bay, where I spent the last month and a half, the topic on everyone's mind was the state Supreme Court's recent decision to uphold Prop 8, an amendment passed in November that stipulates only marriages between a man and a woman are recognized in California.

Until recently, I felt this wasn't my fight -- an easy thing to think when you're not gay, and when the majority of people around you keep their opinions to themselves. But because this issue's become so salient, supporters of Prop 8 are coming out in full force, making their presence as resonantly felt as the couples this law affects.

In the past few weeks I've met people that consider homosexuality downright inappropriate; they'll leave the room when a gay guy walks in. It's crazy to me to see this kind of behaviour, akin to refusing to share office space with a woman of professional parity.

Then there are those that argue this isn't a matter of civil rights; this is a matter of semantics.

The argument follows thus: "marriage" falls under the jurisdiction of religion, a realm the state has no business meddling in. So it's not gays' right to be together that's the problem; it's that we have to uphold this crucial separation between church and state. If homosexuals wish to wed, we need a separate definition for their relationship.

This is creepy logic, akin to saying, "It's not that blacks don't have the right to free water; it's that they just shouldn't use the same fountains." But even if you disagree with that sentiment, here are three reasons the "semantics" dissertation doesn't hold weight:

  • It isn't exclusively religious heterosexual couples that get married. Any hetero couple that wants to, can, and sometimes God has little or nothing to do with it.

  • The church meddles in affairs of the state all the time. Some feel it's because of a rather large church that Prop 8 managed to pass in the first place; and a still larger church contributed significantly to the reelection of George W. Bush in 2004.

  • "Marriage" isn't just a ceremony in which man and wife make a commitment before the eyes of God. For ordinary people, it surpasses this definition: it's the ultimate surrender of yourself to another; it's a tribal ritual that reflects optimism for a now-shared future; it's the fantasy you harbour of coming home and wrapping your arms around your partner's waist, even before s/he knows you're there.

And I'm not even gonna touch that "sanctity of marriage" hoo-ha.

Perhaps more importantly, marriage has become the social demonstration of a pairing's legitimacy. This isn't something I'm personally crazy about, but US society puts a huge premium on the wedlock-fortified happily-ever-after. The desire for it is ingrained in us by our families, the media, fairy tales, and yeah, by our government -- in the form of tax shelters.

When a couple introduces itself in a room full of strangers, it means something to those strangers to know the pair is married -- not just living together, not just engaged in a "civil union" (the rent-a-cop version of Marriage™). You are automatically made to recognize the ideological stamp of approval surrounding that liaison.

That's the core of this conflict: the legitimacy of your union in the eyes of others.

"But hey," some say, "if you really love each other, who cares what others think?"

"What others think" is where the fight for civil rights begins. When a black man forced to use a different water fountain, or a woman denied suffrage, demand rights equal to those of their peers, these people aren't suffering from low self-esteem. What they seek is the opportunity to one day be judged by their merits, not by ethnicity or gender -- two variables that can't biologically be helped.

Changing a law doesn't guarantee tolerance, but it opens the door. It's the ultimate demonstration of what the state perceives to be the future of a society, proof of what tomorrow will abide.

The retraction of Prop 8 is one way of saying, "You guys may still have a hard time being accepted today. But your right to wed will be part of what your children's children define as normal, part and parcel of being a civilized and accepting community -- one in which productive commitment is recognized and embraced, and the value of a man is set by his contributions, not by the gender of his life partner."

Is that not worth fighting for?

Image credit: CarbonNYC.

02 June 2009

'So Billy Got Fired ... So Billy Didn't Have a Job ... So Billy's Wife Had Him Killed.'

I love BooneOakley's new website-cum-YouTube video.

It's cool that there's an agency out there that's willing to try new things, and be seriously fucking funny, without worrying about looking chill or getting some faint-hearted person's panties all in a twist.