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The UK has re-established itself as a global ad force

Whether James Murphy emulated the celebration of the young French football fans by commandeering an aged but slightly pimped-up Citroën Saxo and driving up and the down the Croisette repeatedly blowing the horn and waving a flag, I'm not sure, as I'd gone home on Saturday morning. But given Adam & Eve/DDB's barnstorming performance at Cannes, where it was named the Agency of the Year after winning four Grands Prix for Harvey Nichols (nearly matching McCann Melbourne's total of five last year for "dumb ways to die" for Metro), its reasons to rejoice were manifold.

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And you could argue that, while other spotty French youths were pulling wheelies on their mopeds in response to the national team reaching the last 16 of the World Cup (although, judging by their reaction, you would have thought they had won the final), Murphy had rather more to cheer about.

This was primarily, but not exclusively, for his agency, which is still in the first flushes of youth – but also for proving that the UK is not the spent force in global advertising that many feared (and which previous Lions hauls seemed also to bear out).

With British agencies dominating the Cannes Grands Prix, there can be little doubt that this year was ours

A&E/DDB also showed that it could win big away from just the Christmas schmaltz of John Lewis with "sorry, I spent it on myself" for Harvey Nichols. And further Lions for Marmite and Volkswagen revealed a still deeper depth and range of capabilities and creative skills (the timing of this for its involvement in the Virgin Atlantic pitch was therefore judicious). It was just a pity that the strategist David Golding, who has also been instrumental in A&E/DDB’s success, was unable to also be on the podium to bask in the glory, having apparently already promised to take his wife out for a steak meal to mark their wedding anniversary.

The British advertising contingent largely returned home with a jaunty spring in its step – OgilvyOne, in particular, should be proud of its nine Lions (including the Direct Grand Prix) for the "magic of flying" initiative – but there was the inevitable odd disappointment. Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO has every right to feel aggrieved that Guinness "Sapeurs" didn’t do better or that Sainsbury’s failed to woo the juries in Branded Content. Equally, the usually dependable Bartle Bogle Hegarty didn’t show up this year, instead focusing its Cannes messaging on a potentially interesting partnership deal with the US entrepreneur Scooter Braun, who held court at the Martinez like a princeling.

But with British agencies dominating the Grands Prix, there can be little doubt that this year was ours. And instead of tempting fate, as Colin Welland famously did in his optimistic but premature Chariots Of Fire Oscar acceptance speech, it seems more appropriate to declare that the British aren’t coming – they’re back.

jeremy.lee@haymarket.com
@jezzalee

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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