Red Urban and VW win Silver, WestJet wins Bronze in Branded Content

Two Canadian agencies have earned podium finishes in Cannes Lions’ three-year-old Branded Content and Entertainment awards.

Red Urban‘s telling of the remarkable story of a VW Beetle (VIN 903847) that drove around the world three times was awarded a Silver Lion in the Non-Fiction: TV & Broadcast category. The work for Volkswagen Canada also won Bronze in the Film Lions.

“The jury’s conversation around this was about the craft,” said Grip’s Randy Stein, who gave Marketing some insight on what took place inside the Branded Content jury room.

He called Red Urban’s film “a simple story that’s well told, and it’s very well executed, from the music to the cinematography. Even the editing and storytelling is strong.”

After being shortlisted in two other Lions competitions, WestJet‘s “Christmas Miracle” also won a Bronze in the Live Experience category. Stein said many of the jury members were already familiar with the execution because it spread so virally. But he said there was some concern that the video was little more than a filmed stunt.

Stein said he felt the need to defend the work and explain that it ties into an overall brand positioning, “Owners Care,” which positions employees as having a caring relationship with WestJet’s clients.

“This wasn’t just a random brand doing this,” Stein said. “It was very much tied to the brand’s DNA and the message they’re trying to get across. Once that became clear to them, the jury felt appreciation for expanding that narrative through this great stunt. ”

As with the Film Craft jury, the Branded Content jury decided not to award a Grand Prix – an unusual at the Cannes Lions.

“What we felt was there was no one piece that was exceptional,” said Doug Scott, president, founder of OgilvyEntertainment. “It is unfortunate that we were unable to recognize one piece of work, but we believe what we have achieved here is elevated nine great pieces around the world and those agencies and those countries and those clients can really be proud of because they are beginning to formulate what true branded content and entertainment is,” he said. “It should inspire people to go out there to focus on how to build great branded content, content that creates emotion.”

In just its third year as a competition in Cannes and in a area of the industry that has grown and evolved quickly in recent years, Scott said defining branded content was something the jury discussed at the start of the process.

“For us, content is marketing so good that you don’t know its marketing. it is something that you invite, that you seek rather than something that interrupts.”

It can come in multiple shapes and sizes; it can be a photo or a vine or long form. “We don’t want to define it by length, we don’t want to define it by format, we don’t want to define it by medium. We want to leave all that creativity open to the community,” he said. “What we want to do is look at the audience, the receiver of the messages and make sure that it is content to them.”

In total there had been 1,178 entries to the competition, 91 made the shortlist and 66 received medals. There were 18 Canadian submissions to the Branded Content & Entertainment Lions this year, down from 25 last year.

Want the latest news and winners from the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity? Visit Marketing @ Cannes.

Cannes2014 Articles

Why Storytelling Still Matters

Utility, authenticity and storytelling win with judges and consumers: David Shing's conclusions from Cannes

Unilever CMO’s vision for the future of marketing

Keith Weed: put people first, create brand love and unlock the magic

Russia wins its first Grand Prix at Innovation Lions

Canada's Bublcam doesn't make the winners' list, but earns jury praise

Netflix and DDB’s “Pep Talk” wins Bronze Film Craft Lion

One Canadian trophy in a contest with no Grand Prix winner

Three Bronze Film Lions for Canada

Krispy Kernels, VW Canada and a self-promotion from John St. win in Cannes

Canada’s Innovation Lions finalist: Bublcam

A 360-degree idea from Toronto competes on the global stage