Once again, this year's pulsating Cannes Lions festival defied any single definition. Many worlds collided along the Croisette, as tech meshed with celebrity, salesmen with creative and producers with data-crunchers.
Cannes Lions has become a remarkable brand in itself. Reading its parent Top Right Group’s annual report this week, it was no great surprise to see that events represent the biggest growth area, up 13 per cent.
The group does not break out revenues, but the festival alone is believed to generate more than £26 million. Top Right’s joint owners, Apax Partners and Guardian Media Group, "remain confident in the growth strategy". But what of the wider industry?
Secretly, organisers voice concerns of an increasing disconnect between what is taking place in the Palais des Festivals at one end of the Croisette and the disparate number of "fireside chats" (a contender for the buzzword of 2014) and group meetings occurring along the beachfront leading up to it.
When the likes of Sir John Hegarty start to openly grumble about the festival becoming "too broad, too big and too complicated", it won’t go unnoticed.
Creativity still sits at the heart of the festival, Cannes Lions’ chief executive, Philip Thomas, insists. But in the evolution of paid, earned and owned media, defining exactly what that looks like is no longer as straightforward as it sounds.
'The power of 'magic of flying' for British Airways is in being a simple charming idea, well executed'
Relief all round, then, at this year’s Media Lions-winning "magic of flying" campaign for British Airways: undisputedly brilliant and a great example of a powerful, creative media idea. Every time a BA flight flew overhead, a little boy stood up on screen and pointed excitedly at the plane, while its flight number and destination were displayed in real time.
That the campaign was by ad agency OgilvyOne will be the only minor irritation for media agencies. It was the brainchild of Jon Andrews, who was inspired by his daughter’s excited reaction to planes as they flew over their garden in Sussex.
"She reminded me just how magic flying is," Andrews says. "Probably the most amazing thing any of us get to do in our lifetime – and I just wanted to capture that."
The campaign relied on automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast antennae, transponders, cloud altitude data and a virtual trigger zone in the sky. The masterstroke, of course, was to ensure all of that remained invisible. Its power is in being a simple, charming idea, well executed – echoing the views of the Media Lions judge Mark Creighton.
"As an industry we have a tendency to overcomplicate," says Andrews, "the best ideas are always the really obvious ones where you say, 'I can’t believe we didn’t think of that'".
The media campaign went on to win golds in Cyber, Outdoor and Promo categories and Grand Prix in Direct too.
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