Of the 436 entries into the Immortal Awards from Europe this year, only seven have made it through to this week's final, global round of judging. Europe is a varied and diverse continent and the variety of work spoke to that. The projects selected for the grand jury ranged from creativity addressing weighty issues around the climate, freedom of speech and accessibility to a celebration of certain parts of celebrities’ bodies that we didn’t expect to see in this jury process.
As we’re due to be released from our tenterhooks and up to find out Immortal and Commendation winners for 2021, LBB's Europe editor has caught up with the creators of the seven European Finalists.
Channel 4 Paralympics - Super. Human.
“Making the 2021 Channel 4 Paralympics film was one of the most daunting and rewarding productions I've ever been involved in. Following in the footsteps of two landmark campaigns that changed the way the world viewed Paralympians, we had the opportunity to discover them not as Superheroes, but as humans.
“Charging through the gate alongside Lynsey Atkins and an incredible team at Channel 4, came director Bradford Young. The script was brilliantly complex, exciting and challenging. Bradford approaches filmmaking with soul, humanity, a cinematographer's eye and a deep, resonant understanding of what makes us human beings. What brings heart. He willingly eschews traditional filmmaking preconceptions and structures and instead focuses on emotion and resonance, allowing himself to tell stories in a liberated, unconventional and hugely exciting way.
“Following your instincts takes bravery and creates unique results. I'm glad he did. We had an incredible team. And in front of the camera were some of the most truly remarkable human beings I've ever had the privilege of meeting. Together we tried to respect their dedication with our own. I hope we came close.” Seth Wilson, managing director & executive producer, Somesuch
“Working on the Paralympics campaigns with 4Creative are always such a huge highlight for us for all the obvious reasons! 'So You Wanna Be A Boxer’ is a beloved and well-known song for many people, so we wanted to re-record and carefully craft it to work with the storytelling and visuals. We went on a big vocalist hunt to find a singer who could encapsulate the heart and soul of this song whilst bringing a new performance to work with the film. It was a lot of fun and very satisfying once we found our guy!” Abi Leland, founder & music supervisor, Leland Music
“Cutting this film was a career highlight for me, a real gift of a job. Working with Bradford Young was such a special experience. In fact, everyone on it, in every department, was fantastic.
“The film belongs to such an impressive legacy of ‘Superhuman’ Paralympics work and I’m proud to have played a part in helping create something that authentically represents the athletes in all their spirit, bravery and complexity.
“Whether through humour or images of blood, sweat and tears, I think the way it emphasises humanity and the everyday, alongside sheer athletic determination, is why it resonates so much with viewers.” Amanda James, editor, Final Cut
“It was a huge honour to have been asked back by the team at 4Creative to follow up our work on the iconic Rio 2016 'We're The Superhumans' campaign. The pressure to deliver another banger for Tokyo 2020 was most definitely there, but I feel that pressure really added to the creative process of this film as every collaborator on the project kept pushing each other on, constantly raising the bar to sweat the details and make something truly great.
“There is a lot of love that goes into the making of this film and I think you feel that in every frame and every sound; it's made with care and craft and that's why it is so darn good. To put such a positive story and message out into the world is hugely important right now; this film transcends 'advertising', it's culture, it's us. It's something we should all be proud of.” Anthony Moore, founding partner and chief creative officer at Factory (sound design was created by James Utting and Anthony Moore)
Duck Sauce - Mesmerize
“I think this resonated with audiences because people are fascinated by celebrities’ buttholes.” Keith Schofield, director, Caviar
Heineken - Shutter Ads
“Shutter ads - it came out pretty much a year ago. It started as a one-board idea – the shutter ad with ‘see this ad today, enjoy this bar tomorrow’. That’s all it took to put everything in motion. But then we all know what happened next. This has been for sure the campaign we’ve made the largest number of decks for. We had to sell it to each country individually, depending on their media plans. I think we even got to 10 different decks in a week. I remember Gonzalo (account director) temporarily relocating to Argentina in the full second wave of the pandemic to sit with the client and the production company to make sure everything is done right, while waking up every day at 3-4 am so he could follow up with us on European time. For two months! I remember getting all the teams in, adapting, and writing each message for bars in every country. I remember friends travelling to Argentina for work and sending me photos and writing to me amazed by how many bars had joined. Same for Spain and Germany.
“Heineken showed at a global level how a beverage company has taken on an active role in responding to the pandemic, seeking to play its part in the Covid recovery. The ‘Shutter Ads’ campaign found a way to support bars during the lockdown, even when they were forced to close down. An innovative take on turning the bars into sustainable media spaces to provide its owners with an income when facing these hard times. This move changed the way of doing outdoor advertising and created a purposeful campaign that built on the strength of collective action to deliver value with the aim of giving the industry concrete help to overcome the crisis.” Bruno Bertelli, global CCO, Publicis Worldwide & CEO, Publicis Italy
“This project is the result of people loving what they do and pushing to make things happen. The pandemic brought big issues to everyone, but also brought the will to do better, that’s why Heineken was fully on board to help out their main partners. The rest is history. Something nice about the process was realising that sitting for hours in front of the laptop from home could actually make an impact in people’s lives. Thinking of those bar owners who got real support when they needed it the most makes you understand the power of a good idea.
“We didn’t only help bars, we also remembered why we are in this business.” Eoin Sherry, global creative director, Publicis
Propuesta Civica - #StillSpeakingUp DeepTruth
No entrant commentary was obtained for this innovative piece of creativity but it was so well regarded that it quietly moved through the Europe round of judging with barely any resistance. Built on the shocking insight that the only journalist that can speak up on some subjects without fear in Mexico is a dead one, this collaboration between Publicis Latvia and Mexico used deep fake technology to highlight this truth. Investigating corruption and the drug trade cost over 120 journalists their lives since 2007. Javier Valdez, killed in 2017, was among the most iconic ones. Three years later, artificial intelligence brought Javier back - live on national TV - to directly address the Mexican president, demanding justice for himself and his colleagues, demanding free speech for everyone.
CoorDown - World Down Syndrome Day: The Hiring Chain
“There are many memories linked to this project. I got the call from Luca Lorenzini while walking in a mall in Denver Colorado. He told me the idea, he sang the song on the phone and I immediately told him we had a diamond in our hands and that we were the only ones that could screw things up.
“The other strong memory was when Rich Lee, the director, said yes to working with us. I told Luca and Luca in New York and they sent me a video of them cheering to underline how happy they were.
“We prepared and shot the job in Palma De Majorca with Indiana producing from Milan, the ad agency in NY, the director in LA and the musicians who wrote the song in a small little town in Tuscany called Sarteano. It could not get more international.
“Another great memory was the speed at which we edited the rough cut. We wrapped and 10 minutes later we showed a first cut to the director, who loved it so much that showed the cut to Luca and Luca, who loved it so much that they presented the first rough cut to the client 20 minutes after wrap. Now that I think about it, the hiring chain started with a virtual chain.
“Other than the fact that Italy went into lockdown as we were still shooting in Palma, and it took us a little bit of creative travelling to get back to Milan, and the fact that we all decided with the client to not air the commercial in 2020 (for reasons not difficult to imagine), the last memory I would disclose regarding the CoorDown project would be Luca and Luca calling me to ask for a very urgent Zoom meeting a month before the film was supposed to air on March 21st 2021. ‘Are you ready?’ they said. 'Yep'. And they played the song, in acapella form, recorded by Sting in his home-studio. We almost cried when we heard it. It was the bow we needed to put on the crafting of our diamond.” Karim Bartoletti, partner / MD / executive producer, Indiana Production
“We believe that the strength of this idea lies in the insight, so simple and yet so powerful. And as it often happens with the strongest insights, it comes directly from the client: ‘The more that people with Down syndrome are seen at work, the more they’ll be hired.’ This is such a powerful truth that we only had to find an entertaining way to bring it to life, but honestly, the idea was already 50% there when we received the brief. The fact that we then executed it in a very simple and literal way, helped people understand the message easily and, as we saw with the results of the campaign, turned the call to action into real action.” Luca Lorenzini and Luca Pannese, executive creative directors at SMALL New York
Renault - Appy, Electric Village
“Creating the first 100% Electric Vehicle city was a crazy thing to do. And Renault was crazy enough to follow us and make it happen. The most exciting thing about it was that we didn’t know if it would work or not. Fortunately, it did.
“I think it has maybe resonated because the idea was simple, and because the contents were non scripted. Real.
“Appy inhabitants, appy agency, appy client: (h)appy ending indeed.” Marco Venturelli, co-president, Publicis Conseil
House of Lapland - Salla 2032
“Recording in Finland was an amazing experience, especially as we got to witness how climate change hits the polar circles first and much more significantly. We experienced temperatures more than 10°C higher than they should be at that time of year; while we were there, a completely unusual bird migration movement was reported…There, we understood about the urgency of the message we were passing, which allowed us to renew our energies and dedicate even more time and commitment to our project.
“I think the surprise of seeing an Arctic Circle city positively apply to the summer games brought a lightness that was most welcome to such a serious matter. The topic of global warming often fails to move and reach the population precisely because it seems boring, in this case, the change in the initial narrative and the future revelation through the press conference was our differential.” Juliana Leite, special projects director, Africa