If this is a Gold Lion then the jury knows nothing about Twitter (Oh look, they don’t)

Winning a Lion in Cannes is a big deal. Even more so if it’s a Gold Lion.

But that relies on the jury being qualified to judge what’s in front of them.

Looking at one of the Aussie Gold winners from the ad festival this week, my view is that the jury made a bad call, and damaged their credibility in the process.  

I’m perplexed that Droga 5 has won a Gold and Silver in the Direct Lions for its LA4320 Twitter campaign on behalf of V Australia.

It feels to me that the jury lacked the knowledge to judge what was in front of them and made an award based on what was hot, rather than what worked.

(And that’s not to criticise the agency, by the way. It’s not their fault for being good at awards entries. It’s the jury’s for buying it.)

The campaign in question saw V Australia fly three people out to LA, tweeting every minute. I vaguely remember it from the time. Like many, I briefly followed the three tweeters out of curiosity, then immediately unfollowed. Who wants to have their Twitter timeline filled with three inanities from the same people, every single minute?

I missed it at the time, but Lachlan Hibbert-Wells, who works in social media and is better known online as Warlach, wrote a thoughtful post about it at the time on why he considered the campaign to be a Twitter failure.

His criticisms were:

  • The Twitter profile names (@4320LA) looked like spam.
  • The clutter of minute-by-minute updates
  • Choosing people who didn’t have the writing skills to take part
  • Failing to link the images posted elsewhere with the tweets
  • Trying to game the stats to create a hashtag trend (and failing)

Later, he busted somebody working on behalf of Droga 5 for tryng to astroturf his comments thread – talking up the campaign as if they were an independent commentator when they were not. All in all Warlach’s piece – still worth a read by following the link above – was a case study in how brands shouldn’t do a social media campaign. He demolished it as the gimmick it was.

That was that, until awards season, when Droga5 put together this video:

V_Australia_Droga_5_Cannes_twitter_MumbrellaImpressive, isn’t it? You can read the entry here too.

(By the way, having sat through a lot of awards entry videos, one surefire way to tell if the PR plan succeeded or failed is to watch the images that accompany phrases like “The world watched around the clock”. If they are mainly clippings from the trade press, then fair to say the world was probably not watching around the clock.

On freezeframe I can make out Digital Buzz Blog, Campaign Brief, Mumbrella’s sister travel site Thumbrella, Creativity, Creative Online and Bannerblog.)

But hey, maybe the Direct Lions jury saw something in it that Warlach and myself did not.

But to do so, you’d expect the jury to understand the communications medium they were considering. Otherwise, they are effectively taking a video awards presentation’s word for it.

One element of their experience in this respect is available – how active, if at all, are the jurors on Twitter? have they at least lived with it for a few weeks, and developed an understanding of it? otherwise, how can they know if this is a successful campaign?

There were 30 on the Direct Lions jury.

I’ve spent the day examining their digital footprints to try to work out how well they are likely to understand Twitter. They may be excellent disciples of traditional direct marketing, but as far as I can tell, Twitter ain’t their thing.

As far I can tell, only two of the 30 seem to make regularly use of it in a way that a normal twitter user would recognise.

Vaughn Davis, from Y&R Auckland and Erik Ingvoldstad from MRM Worldwide Singapore. Not being privy to the jury deliberations, I’ve no idea whether they liked the campaign or not.

As for the rest, about a dozen of them show the typical signs of trying a new fad, quickly losing interest before fully engaging with it and never going back. In alphabetical order, that includes:

When they aren’t able to apply the consumer perspective to the campaign, it’s suddenly easier to see why that video starts looking so persuasive isn’t it?

And based on that expert panel, Droga5 has just picked up two of the most coveted advertising awards in the world. As I write this, the campaign has also been shortlisted in the Cyber Lions category.

If there was a Cannes Lion for Producing Awards Entries, I’d give Droga5 the Grand Prix.

June 27 Update: Another jury’s gone the same way. The Titanium Jury has given the Grand Prix to a retail helpline based on Twitter. Sheesh.

Tim Burrowes


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