A Grand Dispute
 | By Iain Akerman

For the first time in its history a grand prix winner was booed at the Dubai Lynx. ArabAd investigates

“Was that film for the flying kiwi the best this region’s done all year?” asked an exasperated Dubai Lynx attendee on Facebook shortly after the awards had ended. “An explanation needs to be made.”

An explanation, however, is unlikely to materialise. Not in full, at least. Matt Eastwood, J. Walter Thompson’s worldwide chief creative officer and president of the film, print, print and outdoor craft, radio and direct jury, declined to comment, stating via his executive assistant that he was travelling in Australia and then Europe through to mid-April and did not have the time to craft a response.

Given that Blue Barracuda’s grand prix in film for Zespri Kiwifruit’s ‘Can you get home before your Zespri Kiwifruit?’ was met by boos from sections of the audience – something previously unheard of at the Dubai Lynx – an explanation of the jury’s decision was the least that could be expected. Yet only one of the jury members offered any initial insight into the decision: Hedvig Hagwall Bruckner, a copywriter at King in Sweden.

 

At the end of the day the awards are the collective judgment of seven individuals, and there will always be some results that some (or sometimes many) outside of the jury will disagree on.

Bruckner was unaware of the reaction on the night – or of the subsequent displeasure of much of the industry towards the quality of judging – having not attended the awards gala. For her, however, the Zespri commercials were awarded for their creativity, joyfulness, simplicity and humour.

“Sometimes simplicity and humour stand out, and we liked the relaxed approach when selling something so generic as kiwi,” said Bruckner. “The concept lends itself to a variety of interesting and fun interpretations, a reason it was awarded as a campaign and not for one single outtake.

“I would agree that there were other good films, but I don’t agree that the kiwi commercials weren't worthy of the award. As to how it was chosen – like all the other awards. The judging process is very detailed and well coordinated, so it’s not just ‘a pick’. The jury goes through all the work, makes their judgment in many steps, where every entry is thoroughly discussed, and our grand prix decision was unanimous. 

“At the end of the day the awards are the collective judgment of seven individuals, and there will always be some results that some (or sometimes many) outside of the jury will disagree on.” 

Disagree they did, although hardly any were willing to put their name to open criticism. One production house executive said simply that he was “absolutely confused” because the campaign was “neither clever nor well executed”, adding that is was “a slap in the face to our industry that out of everything it was that campaign that won a grand prix. Ideally if the jury doesn’t think anything is worth a grand prix, they should not award one. Grand prix means outstanding and game-changing.”

Was the Zespri work game-changing?

“Definitely. Yes,” responded Matthias Storath, a juror and the managing director and executive creative director at Heimat Berlin. “It was outstanding and deserved a grand prix.

“From my point of view, it’s really difficult to advertise something like a ripe kiwi in an interesting way. The Zespri commercial didn’t talk about ‘The sun kissed, supernatural, wonderfully ripe product’ but instead had a simple message for the consumer ‘Zespri kiwis are ready to eat when purchased’. This simple and true message was executed in a very entertaining and unique way and Zespri really stood out from the crowd.

“The overall standard [of the work entered] was good, especially, when it came to commercials with simple, entertaining ideas. The Dnata Travel commercials with the virtual reality devices were really funny. On the other hand, however, the great epic storytelling film was missing this year. Maybe in 2018 we’ll see such a commercial blockbuster.”

For the grand prix winners, however, walking on stage to the displeasure of those around you must not have been pleasant. Amongst them were content creators the Misfits, who collaborated with Blue Barracuda to conceptualise and create the films.

“We never made the films with the intention of awards but we were all extremely flattered and pleased it ended up winning a grand prix,” said the company as a whole as part of a unified response. “We were taken back by the boo’ing at the event, which soon became funny to think about considering the room was filled with industry professionals. We honestly don’t know the full story of why or what the gossip was for this happening. We can only assume these events have a lot of agendas; and teams have a lot more invested in the event than just a fun industry night. We even made a video the next day to make fun of ourselves as we assumed everyone must not have thought much of us.

“To us the videos we did were the most amusing way to answer the brief of creating ‘how to videos’ to educate Saudi Arabia on kiwis and how to eat them. We think they’re funny and enjoyed doing them with Blue Barracuda. Awards aside, it was an amazing buzz when we heard the engagement the videos got online as well as the business results that were generated.”