"Good work was never at risk"

Film juror Martin Spillmann on the judging marathon

Film juror Martin Spillmann on the judging marathon "Good works were never at risk"
This year's film jury had over 6000 spots to review. Despite this record number, only 70 Lions were awarded. With the spot for Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) by Advico Young & Rubicam (AY&R), Switzerland won a Gold Lion for the second time. The last one was also won by the Gockhauser agency in 1994 with its cow commercial for ZVSM.
Congratulations on the Gold Lion. How do you feel after this week?
Martin Spillmann: Like when you've had an overdose of commercials: dog-tired. I spent ten hours judging over eight days, which really takes its toll. It's a great feeling to have won a Gold Lion.
Two films on the shortlist and one of them wins gold. A good haul.
Spillmann: Without a doubt (laughs). We should also get an Effie for that. Seriously, it was very, very hard to make the shortlist this year.
Did you still have to do a lot of convincing on the jury?
Spillmann: No, the decision was unanimous. This only happened 10 times in total. As a rule, a two-thirds majority was required for a Gold Lion. There was no discussion about this award. Everyone was in agreement.
After all, a similar idea was awarded a Gold Lion in the Press & Poster category last year.
Spillmann: That was a talking point. However, we were able to prove that we had won the budget in Switzerland in a competitive presentation when the campaign in question had not even been presented by McCann-Erickson, Madrid. A case of poetic justice.
Was the Spaniards' prize subsequently revoked?
Spillmann: No, it may be that two agencies had the same idea almost simultaneously. That's why I think it's right that the other agency can keep the prize.
Why did the McCann-Erickson, Zurich, Autostopper commercial and the Hakle commercial miss out?
Spillmann: The Autostopper spot only just made it onto the smaller shortlist - which only comprises around 200 spots - but didn't get enough points to be pursued any further. I kept stressing that the Hakle spot was not my favorite. It is too polarizing. The term "first dry and then wet" touches on a taboo zone for Americans. The commercial implicitly says that if you don't clean wet, you're not cleaning well enough. This went down badly with the Anglo-Saxons, but the opposite was true for the southerners.
What was the mood like on the jury?
Spillmann: We had a very good understanding. Bob Isherwood did an excellent job. At first it was said that he had difficulty asserting himself, but the opposite was true: he was able to assert himself when it mattered; not loudly, but firmly and precisely. There is still an antagonism between the Latino faction and the Anglo-Saxons, but it never blocked our work. Good work was never jeopardized because the jury members behaved incorrectly. The search for good ideas allowed the chauvinistic feelings to fade into the background.
Have you discovered something new?
Spillmann: I haven't seen any new trends. It's simply about leaving the beaten track and trying to retell the consumer's relationship with the product. As a juror, you are not a professional idiot, but first and foremost a normal consumer who watches advertising and wants to be entertained. Boredom is poison. It's as simple as that.
What surprised you the most this year?
Spillmann: Car advertising was exceptionally strong this year, the strongest category of all. This is all the more pleasing because the car industry is also the most advertising-intensive sector. In the past, car advertising was always "gliddering horseshit". That has changed. Germany has also made a very positive impression in this respect.
What advice would you give Swiss advertisers on their way home?
Spillmann: Look for ideas that are relevant to the product and take the consumer's perspective. You should always ask yourself in a campaign: How does the consumer behave with the product in everyday life? What kind of relationship do they have with it and how can I, as an advertiser, tell this story in a new and surprising way? It is crucial that you put yourself in the consumer's shoes.
Can you think of an example from the competition?
Spillmann: The Fleurop campaign comes to mind, which works according to the motto: "Give your girlfriend or wife flowers and she'll do something for you." The commercial only shows the woman's surprising reaction. The whole thing is amazingly realized. The common and banal message in flower advertising, on the other hand, usually follows the following pattern: "We have beautiful flowers that you can use to make your wife happy." That simply no longer works today.
How would you sum up Cannes 2001?
Spillmann: It was an average year with highlights and continuations of existing campaigns such as Budweiser's "Whassup" campaign.
However, this campaign in particular only received bronze.
Spillmann: And rightly so. We've often seen parrots and aliens that talk. Not particularly original. It's obvious to continue such campaigns, but you can't give any more Gold Lions for them. It is certainly a good thing that the campaign is being continued because it strengthens the brand. However, the implementation was not astonishing enough. In contrast, I found Budweiser's follow-up commercial with the business people greeting each other with "What are you doing?" and holding a Heineken in their hands much more original. Interview: Samuel Helbling

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