Cannes is a sad place for Italians 2

by Gianluca Gualtieri , GG Marketing Communication Consultancy

brw-macs2Now for the sequel to my previous article, about the dismal performance of Italy at the Cannes Lions Festival. So how did we do this year? The 61st Cannes Advertising Festival awarded 1143 Lions: Italy won 15 of them, even fewer than last year (19), putting it in18th place in the rankings.

As usual, the USA took first place, with 215 Lions, followed by Brazil (107 – at least some good news for Brazil!) and the UK (104).  France rises to 4th place with 85 Lions (29 more than last year).

The other countries that won more Lions than us were Australia (63), Argentina (45), Japan (44), Germany (43), Spain (37) Sweden (34), South Africa (27) India (27) Netherlands (25), New Zealand (25), Mexico (23), United Arab Emirates (21) and China (20).

But as we suggested before, a proper analysis has to take into consideration two economic parameters: GDP and media spend. Italy’s GDP is about 3% of the world’s total and its media spend is close to the same percentage. So of the 1143 Lions awarded in Cannes this year, Italy should have won about 35.

Nobody within the Italian advertising community should be satisfied by winning less than half that number.

By applying the same parameters, let’s take a look at how other countries have performed this year. Who should be happy and who should not?

Countries that OVER performed their economic parameters:

  • Guatemala, Ecuador, Uruguay, Paraguay, Costa Rica, Colombia, Serbia, Austria, the Czech Republic and Vietnam all won more Lions than last year, but that’s because they didn’t win any in 2013 =   QUITE HAPPY
  • Argentina, Spain, Mexico, France, The Netherlands and Peru won significantly more Lions than last year = VERY HAPPY AND PROUD
  • UK, Sweden, Brazil, the United Arab Emirates, South Africa and India were pretty much in line with last year =   HAPPY AND SATISFIED.
  • New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, the Philippines and Thailand won significantly fewer Lions than last year =  SOMEWHAT HAPPY BUT NOT SATISFIED

Countries that UNDER performed their Economic parameters:

  • The USA and Japan historically score below their economic parameters; nevertheless, they both won significantly more Lions this year =  VERY HAPPY, DESPITE EVERYTHING
  • Turkey, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Denmark won significantly more Lions than last year, but once again, that’s because they didn’t win any in 2013 =  HAPPY BUT NOT SATISFIED
  • Russia is pretty much in line with its last year =  NOT SATISFIED
  • Germany won 23 FEWER Lions than last year and almost 40 Lions less than two years ago. And this year, for the first time, it underperformed according to its economic parameters. The same applies for Belgium and Norway = MAD AND WORRIED.
  • South Korea, Canada and China also won significantly fewer Lions than last year. But even in previous years they were underperforming according to their economic parameters =  SAD AND FRUSTRATED

Returning to Italian matters, in the previous article we pointed out that the minimum goal for Italy (to confirm the trend of the previous two years and stay in line with decency), was to win more than 20 Lions. But it was not to be. In the end, Italy won 20% less than last year.

The conclusions are even more daunting if we focus on how the prizes are distributed: 14 of the 15 Italian Lions (93%) were won by Leo Burnett, Publicis and Saatchi & Saatchi, all part of the Publicis Groupe. The remaining Lion was won by M&C Saatchi.

This was not an anomaly: in the past three years, the Publicis Groupe has taken 41 of the 52 Lions won by Italy (80%).

If we set aside the prizes won by the Publicis Groupe (which counts for less than 15% of total advertising expenditure in Italy), it brings the number of Lions won by Italy in the last three years down to 11 (like Guatemala), which would push us down to 34th place in the rankings.

Many of the Cannes Lions brought home by Publicis Groupe Italy over the last three years have been won, more or less, with the same clients. This proves that success comes from a harmonious agency/client relationship and from having brave clients, who are eager for original creative ideas.

In the last article we wrote that Germany’s success over the last 10 years was due to its marketing people developing a braver attitude towards creativity. This courage is also expressed through the choice of independent agencies. A similar trend can be seen in the USA, South America and Europe.

Young entrepreneurs understand that in order to preserve and protect the quality of ideas, you have to liberate yourself from bureaucratic and obsessive reporting, from endless (and useless) meetings, and from needless politics. Worldwide, many dozens of independent agencies have emerged in the last few years. Even in Italy there are independent entities that have held on bravely during the crisis. Some were even been established in 2012.

A smart Italian advertiser should look either at the group that scores highly on global standards of creativity (according to Cannes statistics), or at one of these courageous independent agencies.

(Image: Lowe Pirella, 2007)

Gianluca Gualtieri

Partner, Istituto Protagora