Cannes International Advertising Festival 2010

The very best from the world of international advertising!

Cannes Ad Festival poster design by Algonquin student Victoria SawyerIt’s easy to hate advertising on television and in the cinema. No-one likes the interruption, and many resent the intrusion. Advertising is commonly accepted only as a necessary evil.

Whether or not it’s evil, advertising can be very good. Very good writers often collaborate with very good actors and filmmakers to create sharp, concise and entertaining mini-movies that have the power to move us to laughter or to tears.

And ads are getting better, for two major reasons. As advances in technology make special effects available to more and more ad professionals, it’s no longer necessary to have a feature-film budget to present an astonishing look. And more importantly, audiences are becoming more sophisticated, possessing a knowledge of film grammar and visual short-cuts that makes it possible to include more information in less screen time. Ads now look better and say more than ever before.

Not all tv and cinema ads are all that good, to be truthful, but from all the ads created by all the ad agencies in all the countries of the world, there are many gems. This year, we enjoyed a bumper crop. From over 4,000 entries, judges of the Cannes International Advertising Film Festival 2010 selected 95 prize winners, representing the absolute best commercials you’ll see all year.

There are spots from all over the world, including ads from the U.K., France, The Netherlands, Brazil, Germany, Argentina, and the U.S. (of course). There’s even a special section of Canadian winners. Featured are celebrity spokespeople, cute kids, and even cuter animals, all enlisted to pitch the product to you. And because sex still sells, there are lots of beautiful women and beautiful men (including that hunky Old Spice guy), lovingly filmed in ways calculated to sell more beer, banking, cars and clothing.

The Cannes winners differ from tv commercials in another important way. Many ads are created in longer formats for cinema play, then edited down (sometimes incomprehensibly) to 30- or 15-second tv spots. Here, we get to see the original ‘director’s cuts’, sometimes clocking in a 120 seconds or more. There’s even one six minute commercial, featuring Robert Carlyle in a one-take masterpiece of monologue.

The essential ingredient – humour – is here, too, in a big way. Audiences who see the Cannes International Advertising Festival year after year keep coming back for the laughs, and they won’t be disappointed with the wit and flat-out fun of this year’s collection.

Not all ads rely on humour to put their messages across, of course, but in a collection of 95 ads that run from 10 seconds to 180 seconds each, you’re never more than four minutes away from a laugh! It’s pretty hard to hate that.

– Bruce White, ByTowne Programmer

Note: This programme originally premiered at the ByTowne from January 7th to 13th, 2011. If you didn't see it then, it's all new!

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