Clemenger BBDO's James McGrath: How and why the Titanium winning-work was awarded

Screen Shot 2018-06-23 at 9.16.01 am.jpgJames McGrath, Creative Chairman at Clemenger BBDO, represented Australia on the Cannes Titanium Lions jury. McGrath, along with most of the other Australian and NZ jurors writes exclusively for CB.

So, now we all know the winners, I thought it would be useful to talk little about how and why the Titanium winning-work was awarded.

First-up, I want to reinstate how brilliant and frankly essential the live judging was, particularly for this category. Apart from the privilege of hearing the best of our industry and clients talk about the world's best work they have created, it really allowed us not to be simply judging a case film. Unlike a beautifully packaged two minutes, questions can be asked and the real nature of the intention, the methodology, the experience, the context and the decision-making can be examined. Very, very revealing and expansive or reductive as a result. Talking to the out-going Terry Savage (who has created and refined the festival as we know it for the last 30 years) he indicated that we may see more of this approach. It's obvious as ideas become more complex, more contextual and frankly more experiential you need to understand and attempt to feel that.

Titanium is defined as reconsidering the way forward, as a category it's to serve as an important reflective moment for the industry, to take stock and understand the signals of what's ahead and for us as a jury we also interpreted that as what's important to reconsider bringing with us.
As we gathered on Day Three in private, for the first time having made our way through the 25 individual presentations, we were shown the relative rankings based on scores, of each idea. There is a real phenomenon in juries, a presumption based on the collective conversations and opinions, that you believe you are aligned, rarely does that prove to be the case.

The sign of a great jury is your ability to have a strong opinion open to a persuasive counter argument. Thankfully as a senior group that was a wonderful and merry dance we did for the next 12 hours, although fundamentally it was reordering the top ten (as a rule of thumb Cannes likes to see 4-5 Titanium awards and a Grand Prix) but done with a curatorial intention to marker some key moments.

It was very obvious this year wasn't going to see one defining innovation as the way forward but for me if there was a significant lesson, it was around sophisticated orchestration and choreography. All in different and important ways and to diverse ends but critically built around big organizing ideas and ideals.

The orchestration of media and comedic timing in the case of the wonderful It's a Tide Ad campaign, a brilliant ownership of the entire three hours of the Super Bowl through the careful planning of 100 seconds of subdivided precious airtime, one joke sustained over three hours, borrowing and owning from all of the surrounding advertising through brilliantly timed placement and of course the all-important visual trigger, the hard-working proof of clean and the phrase 'It's a tide ad'.

The orchestration of the image, and the subverting of media, to rewrite all the wrongs of our patriarchal society, communication and the blue liquid of advertising in Bloodnormal.
This was a choreography of successive media, products and conversations all with the central, honest, human, visceral, normal depiction of what a period is, blood. As the female President of the Glass Lions said (who awarded this also a Grand Prix) never has she felt empowered enough to use the word period repeatedly in a public place. With this beautifully observed and brave thinking comes a vital reset, the removal of shame and disgust powerfully starts here.
 
The orchestration of involvement, recruitment and powerful connection. At the substrate of Nothing beats a Londoner sits an idea built by its audience. Through a brilliant but highly deconstructed production process, the youthful Londoners show their surprising optimism through a love of idiosyncratic sport and their unique part of London. Nike with a brief of relevance, knew they needed to prove authenticity, so they incredibly and bravely handed their brand over to an organic process of context-setting, scripting and casting, then allowed the protagonists themselves to play with it. To the casual observer as a film but it's wonderful to understand it's release was actually in succession socially, scene by scene from each of the individual cast, to their base, then stitched to the next and so on, to then be released days later in its complete form as a film, guaranteed and proved ownership and endorsement.

The orchestration of architecture, experience and community. Today at Apple, to understand what this was beyond simply a reinvention of the Genius Bar, we took a leap of faith as we asked questions to the presenters and realized this is a really big shift for the Apple store. While we all admire the hallmark refined, reductive design consciousness and utility, with more answers to questions it became clear this was a new body language for this very controlling brand. As we were taken through their new concept stores, we were struck by the openness shifting from product on an alter to a demonstrative, experiential and shared space of the liberal arts. They talked about the building being the hardware and the 650,000 tutorial engagements being the software. Places where thousands of community encouraging classes are held on design, music, photography and coding. They said themselves this is just beginning, I liked that, because it indicated an uncharacteristic public exploration, bottom-up not top down.

Dundee-1.jpgThe orchestration of entertainment, proof of culture and surprise. Dundee. The son of a legend returns home is of course film, in every sense of the word. By necessity it borrows from a cinematic release but with that comes with all of the complex trappings of the entertainment world, the starry actors, the trailers, the very idea of a sequel that the world wants to see, at its heart this has a brilliantly conceived decoy that is so worthy and anticipated (it probably will now be an actual film). Of course, it is revealed as a campaign for Tourism Australia, yes, in a film, in the Super Bowl, critically to more of its American audience when they are watching it in the greatest numbers, at the same time. What we all agreed at the centre of all of its complexity was the very narrative of what it is to be Australian, in the eyes of the world, through a 30-year-old film but never the less the markers that make us the appealing, sun-kissed, character-filled, easy-going and extraordinary destination we are.

And that leaves us with the greatest demonstration of orchestration and choreography, using human-centered and experience design, behavior change, a new visual language and of course the recreation of an immigration process all with a 100% guaranteed powerful audience engagement. The Titanium Grand Prix, The Palau Pledge is built from understanding and primal psychology, this is smart creativity applied to culture and place-making. From the very beginning of the journey, a consequential reputation begins to build, the inflight film, the idea of what our very attitude, behavior and perhaps consequences to the environment we are travelling to, will mean for our children. Then of course the most involving symbol of commitment, signing the pledge, in the most personal of documents.

So, at the end of all of that, I am reminded, as we make our way forward we need the most powerful organizing ideas that can sustain the elaborate orchestration that allow for a brilliant interweaving into our lives and consciousness. We must defy rationality, it's not what moves us or proves that our brand, product or service is authentic, human and useful.

We must resist the corporatization of creativity but equally we must make it invaluable.

Feel free to disagree with our choices as a jury, reject my assessment and opinion but please, there is nothing more important than having one.

7 Comments

Ahh said:

Great breakdown and insight. Always interesting to hear the discussions that go on. Articulated so well and couldn’t agree more.

Nick said:

Must be so satisfying to know the guy who Art Directed The Dundee tourism campaign got his start as an intern in Clemenger Melbourne’s craft department.

Rob said:

Great articulation of what great creativity meeting commerce looks like today.

Paul B said:

Illuminating, thoughtful piece, thanks James

Chris said:

Amazing insight as always, James. Some wonderful lessons for us all

Orchestration said:

Wonderfully orchestrated

@Nick said:

And the guy who was the copywriter of that campaign also worked at Clems Melbourne as one of the concierges. Wasted talent at the time!

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