Australia reveals its Achilles Heel at Cannes

On the plane to Cannes on Friday, I had a horrible feeling this could be the worst year for Australia for a long time at adland’s top awards show.

There hasn’t been a campaign to match NAB Break Up this year, and there’s been a bit of negativity in the market about the humdrum state of creativity in Australia.

But I’m happy to be proved wrong so far. And the omens look pretty good for us to put in a solid – if unspectacular – showing in the South of France.

Our lions haul has improved – dramatically in some cases – in media, press, promo, direct and even outdoor, which was an embarrassing let down last year.

Patts Melbourne has been going well, particularly with Mobile Medic for Australian Defence Force, as has Whybins with Grazed on greatness for M.J.Bale and Car Creation for NRMA Insurance.

We even saw an Australian PR agency win a PR Lion, if only a bronze.

A real highlight was Leo Burnett Sydney winning a Creative Effectiveness lion for Bundaberg Watermark. And yes, the success of BYO Cup Day will mean, I’m told by Karen Lim, Leo Burnett’s Asia Pacific comms director, I will have to eat a gut-busting amount of Slurpee to make amends for a cynical prediction I made a few week ago.

Share a Coke, which was the reason why Mumbrella named Coca-Cola advertiser of the year, hasn’t done quite as well as expected. But the name-on-a-bottle campaign won its first gold today, and the agencies behind the campaign (Ogilvy, Ikon, Naked, One Green Bean, Momentum, Urban and Wunderman) should feel fairly confident that more recognition will follow – even if winning a grand prix feels unlikely.

But in one area Australia has been conspicuous by its absence on shortlists.

We didn’t get a single entry on the Cyber Lions shortlist and failed to convert either of just two shortlisted entries in Mobile – which points to Australia’s Achilles heel.

I caught up with Adam Ferrier, Naked’s founding partner and consumer psychologist, earlier on today, who summed up what Cannes is telling us about the communications business in Australia.

“Our performance so far says we’re a really creative, but technologically ignorant country,” says Ferrier. “We are doing well we’ve what got, but trying to be creative with one hand tied behind our backs.”

“All of the great, cut-through entries you see at Cannes this year have technology at the centre. The appetite and the enthusiasm is there in Australia. But until we get technology right, we’ll always be playing catch up.”

Robin Hicks



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