Saturday, July 5, 2003

The Cog

Over the last month a great deal of email traffic has been devoted to an unconventional British car commercial.

"The Cog," an Honda UK commercial featuring a two-minute automotive Rube Goldberg chain-reaction, has been heralded by critics as one of the best car commercials ever made. NBC's Today Show spotlighted the ad on American TV and much was made of the commercial's Grand Prix chances at the 50th Annual Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival.

A commercial for the extended Honda Accord, the film is designed to demonstrate "the beauty and precision of the pieces and the ingenuity of the engineers who built it." Starting with a solitary cog, the elaborate chain reaction ends with a rolling car and dropping marquee to a voice over saying "Isn't it nice when things just work?"

And, were patience and cost the standards for measuring advertising greatness, "The Cog" would have little competition. Take two-minutes to watch the "The Cog" and consider the following: The ad is completely real – no interruption, no editing, no computers, no special effects. It took 606 takes (all previous ones had failed), and reportedly cost $6 million to make (though no exact figure has been released for public scrutiny).

"The Cog" was considered a popular favorite going into the 50th Annual Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, the only annual get together of the world's advertising and marketing communities. This seven-day June event encompasses major facets of the industry: film, outdoor, press, cyber, media, and direct marketing media.

Close to 8,000 key industry players, from 40 countries, congregate at the festival to view the best in advertising and creativity. During the festival week, competitions showcase over 5000 commercials, 3500 outdoor ads, 6000 print ads, 1300 websites and online ads, 800 media solutions and 1200 direct marketing entries. Winning ads are awarded the highly coveted Gold, Silver, and Bronze Lions, and the Grand Prix – reserved for the most outstanding creative work.

But the judges at Cannes reserved the Grand prix award for another ad and bestowed upon Wieden + Kennedy / Partizan Midi Minuit team a Gold Lion, the highest non-exclusive rank in their category.

The Grand Prix winning film – "The Lamp," executed by Crispin Porter + Bogusky / Morton Jankel Zander – is the tear jerking story of a discarded lamp advertising Ikea furniture. And, while this brilliantly conceived mock-dramatic presentation strikes a more emotional, and humorous, chord, it lacks the awesome originality of "The Cog."

And don't think that American firms were left entirely out in the cold. Nike and Reebok each scored significant wins in the Gold Lion for film categories (Rebook's amazing campaign, "Terry Tate: Office Linebacker," has revolutionized inner-studio relations and humor here at Cloudjammer).

But don't get your hopes up that "The Cog" will play anytime soon on American TV. The Accord model advertised isn't available – nor are there any plans to make it available – to US consumers. fb

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