Network BBDO Wins Radio Grand Prix Again at Cannes | Special: Cannes – Advertising Age

Jurors Were Impressed by South African Shop’s ‘Postmodern’ Campaign for Mercedes

Network BBDO, Johannesburg, impressed jurors with its flair for darkly comedic copywriting in a series of radio spots for Mercedes-Benz dubbed “Accident Avoidance Features.”

The campaign took home the Grand Prix award for radio on Tuesday at the 58th Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, and in so doing, made the South African outpost of the Omnicom Group agency network the winner of the coveted trophy for a second time. Last year, radio jurors did not award a Grand Prix; Network BBDO won the Grand Prix in 2009 for a campaign for Virgin Atlantic.


What it is: “Accident Avoidance Features” is a wry, perhaps borderline creepy set of ads for Mercedes-Benz’s accident avoidance systems in a counterintuitive way. Says the script of one of the spots in the campaign, called “Love”: “Now she whistles love songs to me as she cleans her gun. I think she’s had me micro-chipped because I once woke up groggy on a vet’s table and because I beep every time I exit a shop. Airport security has become unbearable. She eats buffalo wings without spitting out the bones. None of her shirts have sleeves. She knows stuff about me that I haven’t even told her. Mostly banking codes. And I’m pretty sure she sleeps with her eyes open. To think, if I’d been driving a Mercedes-Benz with Blind Spot Assist, one of their smart accident-avoidance systems, we never, never would’ve met.” (The narrator delivers all that in a monotonous voice-over.)

Why it won: It was fresh, made jurors laugh and was simply unlike anything else they heard from other entrants. “It’s an idea that’s coming in from left field,” said Eugene Cheong, the jury chair, who currently serves as regional executive creative director of Ogilvy & Mather Asia Pacific. “Many ideas are really straightforward and direct. … We felt this was postmodern and coming through from such a different angle. It’s a piece of magic.”

The jury: Led by Mr. Cheong, this year’s radio jury was made up of 14 members who were sticklers for the rules. Their motto was “We will not allow any great work to slip through the gap.”

Other Grand Prix contenders: The jury reported liking two other radio entries out of Asia that displayed a “sophisticated” brand of humor. One was for a radio campaign called “Killer Bees,” created by Y&R Thailand, Ban