Old Spice, Pay With a Tweet, Arcade Fire Win Cyber Lions at Cannes

Cannes, France– Grand Prix winners in the Cyber category reflect the rising diversity of digital ad campaigns. The winners, all from the U.S., performed feats of tech deployment, copywriting brilliance, and plain cleverness.

Google won for “The Wilderness Downtown,” a product demo of its Chrome browser in the form of a music video for Arcade Fire. Wieden + Kennedy won for its Old Spice Body Wash Response Campaign, easily the most celebrated social media campaign last year. And R/GA New York won for Pay With a Tweet, an online currency concept that’s at least as much product as it is ad campaign.

At a press conference this morning, Cyber jury president and R/GA Chief Creative Officer Nick Law said the most exciting entries did not come in the form of bread-and-butter display ads but rather brilliant ideas.

“What used to be the staples, banners and websites, are sort of marginalized,” he said. “Everything has blown up. Things that used to be on the periphery have moved to the center, especially mobile and social work.”

Social was at the heart of Old Spice’s “Response,” a follow-up to the broadcast campaign starring Isaiah Mustafa. Over three frenzied days, W+K worked with Mustafa to write and shoot 183 video responses aimed mainly at big Internet personalities such as Ashton Kutcher and Perez Hilton. It then posted those videos to YouTube, Reddit, Twitter, and other sites, where they amassed 36 million views within seven days.

Arcade Fire’s “The Wilderness Downtown” is a music video built in HTML5 and optimized for Google Chrome. The video, directed by Chris Milk, integrated maps to give people a personalized and nostalgic experience of their hometown.

Pay With a Tweet is a promotion-based-app developed by two creatives from R/GA New York. They built it to promote their book, “Oh My God What Happened and What Should I Do?” People who tweeted about the book could get it for free in PDF form – and did so to the tune of 170,000 downloads. Pay With a Tweet has since been adopted as a social payments system by other creatives and companies.

Jurors disagreed on U.S. dominance of the Cyber Lions. While none argued the merits of the winning campaigns, some at the press conference lamented the escalating budgets and multiplying skill sets required to execute technology-driven ideas such as Arcade Fire’s music video.

“That makes it very hard for small countries to compete,” said Belgian juror Jonathan Detavernier. “You have to be good at all the pieces.”

Nick Law countered that the U.S. has moved more quickly to embrace digital campaigns because America’s media fragmentation is more advanced. “In the U.S., networked media becomes more important because of media fragmentation,” he said. “I don’t think it’s about budgets.”

Others wondered at the shortage of entries from Asia, in particular for mobile ad concepts. The consensus seemed to be that those regions would have their moment in the Riviera sun… next year.

“I’m very confident China will come up and we will win the big one,” said Fareeda Cassumbhoy, from Beijing-based Hylink Advertising.

Another cyber juror, Dave Bedwood of Lean Mean Fighting Machine, griped that in their showcase videos many agencies boasted at having done great work with limited budget.

“Digital’s always been scrabbling about for the scraps of the bigger work,” he said. “I don’t think that’s a thing to brag about, that you did it for no money.”

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