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In the advertising industry, awards are powerful currency for agencies to woo potential clients, and to prove to existing ones that what they are doing is working.

One of the most highly-regarded awards and agency can place on its mantle is a Lion from the Cannes International Festival of Creativity. As the festival drew to a close over the weekend, Canadian agencies added a few more Lions to their luggage.

Here are the Canadian ads that were awarded this weekend.

Cornetto Cupidity

Category: Branded Content & Entertainment

Agency: MoFilm

Client: Unilever

Award: Silver Lion

This one is not an all-Canadian win. The lead agency on this project -- which gathers freelance filmmakers from around the world for advertising projects on behalf of clients -- is based in the U.K. However, one of the films in this project was Canadian work.

Vancouver-based director Lloyd Lee Choi and his collective, The Herd Films, created a nine-minute online film, featuring a cameo from singer Lily Allen, for the Cornetto brand of ice cream. It was one among a series of films Cornetto released that were designed to be watchable, creating a moment for the brand to imprint itself on consumers without using a traditional advertising message. The Herd’s story focuses on two women who fall in love after a rather unlucky meeting on a tennis court.

“I definitely have noticed a shift from old ads that pitched product,” Mr. Choi said in an interview this spring, ahead of the Cornetto film’s release. “Now it’s more about an emotional connection.”

Once More, the Story of VIN 903847

Category: Branded Content & Entertainment AND Film

Agency: Red Urban, Toronto

Client: Volkswagen Canada

Award: Silver Lion and Bronze Lion, respectively

For Volkswagen’s 60th anniversary in Canada, Red Urban created a documentary showing the history of the Beetle through the story of a single car -- whose owner drove it on three trips around the world between 1955 and 1967. It was heavily promoted leading up to airing on television on the Discovery Channel and Bravo, but also on an interactive website where viewers could explore archival material such as journals and photographs.

In 1967, the owner sold the car back to Volkswagen Canada. The documentary showed the company reuniting it with its original owner for another trip.

All broadcasts of the documentary reached nearly 1.6-million viewers in Canada. Online, both the trailer and the full documentary have attracted more than 245,000 views.

Christmas Miracle

Category: Branded Content & Entertainment

Agency: WestJet internal team

Client: WestJet

Award: Bronze Lion

WestJet was also awarded for this work in the Cyber category at Cannes this year.

The airline was reckoning with a crowded ad season at Christmas, so it aimed to release a video people would actually remember. It portrayed a stunt WestJet pulled: customers waiting for flights in Toronto and Hamilton, Ont. had a chance to speak to the man in red through a live “Santa-cam” at the airports. By the time they landed, the presents they were wishing for were waiting at the luggage carousel, colourfully wrapped.

The video landed more than 35-million views on YouTube, making it one of the most-viewed ads online in Canada last year. In December, compared to the same month in 2012, revenue was up 86 per cent, bookings rose 77 per cent, and traffic to the website doubled.


Category: Film

Agency: lg2, Quebec

Client: Krispy Kernels

Award: Bronze Lion

This agency has a history of innovative, slightly off-the-wall work, especially for this brand. To show just how good Krispy Kernels nuts are, they spun a story involving telepathic communication during a meditation session. It’s bizarre and funny.


Category: Film

Agency: John St., Toronto

Client: John St.

Award: Bronze Lion

The trend of prank advertising saw a huge boost last year as advertisers looked to make a big impression at the expense of some unsuspecting members of the public. John St. makes one video annually that spoofs the advertising industry, and so last year it tackled this trend.

In its video, John St. made fun of pranks such as LG pretending that the world was ending or the makers of the movie “Carrie” convincing coffee shop visitors that a girl with telekinetic powers was out of control. In the John St. version, advertisers conspire to steal women’s babies and take people hostage in their own home -- suggesting, with a wink, that maybe this has gone a bit too far.

Pep Talk

Category: Film Craft

Agency: DDB Canada, Vancouver

Client: Netflix Canada

Award: Bronze Lion

A coach needs to rally his team; but rather than come up with his own inspiring speech, he reminds his team of “that scene, from that movie.”

The funny commercial even got a shout-out from a real NHL coach -- the New York Rangers’ Alain Vigneault. Going into game four of the Stanley Cup final, with his team down 3-0, Mr. Vigneault told reporters, “I had my Netflix imitation ready for you guys today.”

Naturally, at the next game, the agency made sure that the coach from the commercial had a seat just behind the Rangers’ bench. Too bad his inspirational presence was not enough to save the series for them.

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