Canada shut out in outdoor; Droga5, Bing and Jay-Z win Grand Prix

June 21, 2011  |  David Brown  |  Comments

Despite six chances at a Lion, Canada’s agencies left the Outdoor awards show in Cannes Tuesday night empty-handed.

The Grand Prix went to Droga5 for “Decode Jay-Z with Bing.” The campaign (pictured below) saw every page of Jay-Z’s then-unreleased biography placed on, in and under outdoor spaces in 13 cities around the world: on billboards and plaques, sewn into Gucci clothing, painted onto cars and restaurant plates, and at the bottom of a swimming pool. Fans could then use Bing Search and Maps to track down all 350 pages to complete the entire biography online before it hit bookstores.

Jury president and Publicis Worldwide chief creative officer Olivier Altmann said he asked his jury to review the work “not just as professionals but as human beings,” to look for executions that would have an emotional impact on consumers. With that mandate before them, the jury very quickly came to a unanimous decision to choose “Decode Jay-Z” as its Grand Prix winner, he said.

“It was the incarnation of the new way of how we should practice outdoor,” he said. While the campaign was for Microsoft’s digital search engine, Droga5 chose an outdoor campaign because it is a “real life” medium, right in front of people as they go about their day-to-day lives. Marketers need real-life advertising to connect with consumers, he said.

In total, 119 Outdoor Lions were awarded, 18 of them Gold.

With Google and BBH London also winning a Gold Lion for a campaign that blended outdoor with search engine use, the judges (there were no Canadians on the jury) spent some time at the morning press conference answering questions about the evolution of the outdoor medium and the use of technology.

“Decode Jay-Z” demonstrates “how outdoor can lead an entire campaign,” said James Cloete, executive creative director Draftfcb South Africa. “It is a testament to the security and the safety of the medium.” And while there was no shortage of entries that used “technological gimmicks” many of them failed to do so effectively or were fundamentally flawed from the beginning. “Great technology is not an excuse for a bad idea,” he said.

Dan Fietsam, chief creative officer at Energy BBDO in Chicago, pointed to Samsonite‘s Gold Lion winning “Heaven and Hell” billboard (pictured above) as an example of effective “traditional” outdoor.

“Samsonite is beautiful, beautiful storytelling. There’s no freaking QR code on there,” he said. In a world where everyone has smartphones, everything can be interactive, he said. “Emotionally interactive is more important than digitally interactive.”

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