Chipotle's sustainable farming ad named best TV campaign at Cannes
Jury chairman praises 'heart impact and gut impact' of ad using Willie Nelson cover of Coldplay to question factory farming
A touching animated ad by the US fast food chain Chipotle that used a moving Willie Nelson cover of Coldplay's The Scientist to prick the conscience of rivals who factory farm has been named the best TV campaign in the world.
The two-minute ad, Back to the Start, which has won the grand prix award in the blue riband category at the Cannes international festival of creativity, provoked a storm of debate and received acclaim when it was first aired on TV in the US during the Grammys in February.
The heartfelt ad charts the journey of a farmer as he develops his land into a huge industrialised animal factory, realises the error of his ways and switches back to sustainable and humane practices.
"It was timeless with heart impact and gut impact," said the chairman of the 23-strong jury, Khai Meng Tham. "The best winners at Cannes always have a message, I think, and factory farming is such a big issue everywhere in the world. For a fast food company to do this will, we hope, change the industry, change the world."
There were several contenders for the top award. However, it is understood that 15 of the 22 judges – the chairman does not usually vote for the winner – voted for the Chipotle ad after spending a week whittling down 3,475 entries from 66 countries.
"For the grand prix there were three or four possibles we discussed but when it came to final voting it wasn't even close," said the UK judge Mick Mahoney when asked in a press conference about the other contenders. "Which was surprising really because when we were discussing the options there was very strong work."
The competitors were the Guardian's Three Little Pigs, Bear by the French cable TV channel Canal+ and the US satellite TV company DirecTV's campaign, he said.
"The jury just felt really strongly. Chipotle was so clearly the one everyone liked. Not every piece of film needs a social message in it. It is just such a perfect little circle of an ad."
Chipotle also picked up the grand prix in the branded content and entertainment category.
Of the contenders in the film category the highly fancied Bear TV campaign by Canal+, which tells the humorous story of a temperamental talking bear that directs films, picked up a gold lion.
The ad Canal Plus – A Bear Rug also picked up the grand prix, three golds and silver in the separate film craft category.
There was also much pre-judging buzz surrounding the Guardian's Three Little Pigs TV campaign, a modern-day take on the fairytale that displays the newspaper's concept of "open journalism".
The campaign, by BBH London, picked up a gold lion in the film category, a gold and five silver in the film craft category and a silver in the Titanium and Integrated category.
The TV campaign follows the developing story of the pigs being arrested in a police raid via the Guardian's coverage and interaction with readers and internet users through the newspaper, website, blogs, tweets and video.
"Three Little Pigs was incredibly 'today' … Canal+ was a stunning piece of film very well executed," said Andrea Stillacci, one of the judges in the film category.
"There were strong contenders on the table. The thinking was not that the [film category] grand prix has to deliver a message … but on Chipotle we found an incredible simplicity and dichotomy of something very quiet that speaks so loud and yet it is also there to sell fast food".
The ad is the Guardian's first major brand TV ad since 1986's groundbreaking "Points of View".
The other contender in the film category, although it was much more of an outsider, was DirecTV which managed a gold lion.
The former US president Bill Clinton named the campaign as his favourite during a seminar at Cannes on Thursday where he talked passionately about trying to solve the host of economic, social and environmental issues across the world.
One of the judges pointed out that Chipotle's campaign is exactly the sort the former president would like to see coming from the ad industry to help effect change.
Other UK winners on the final day of awards on Saturday included AMV BBDO's Doritos campaign, which won a gold in film; Wieden & Kennedy London, which won a gold in film craft for Lurpak; and Nike's I Am Playr campaign by We R Interactive London.