Cannes of commercial creativity

Photo provided by the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

Thirty-second commercials fracturing your favourite sitcom may not spark your imagination. However, this does not mean aesthetically-driven commercials are completely absent from television. In hopes to provide Winnipeggers with a taste of more pleasing and artistically astute advertisements, the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG) is presenting an encore screening of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity on April 1, 2, and 4.

The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is the world’s leading advertisement awards event. Held in Cannes, France the festival is a global happening for those involved in creative communications. The festival winners are selected from over 35,000 advertisement entries across 94 countries.

The awards are presented in 16 different categories, ranging from radio advertisement to health and awareness advertisements (such as promotion of medical applications and devices). This provides a broad spectrum of innovative commercials, each with different messages presented from different cultures.

The WAG presented the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity commercials in December. Previously, the gallery has only screened the festival in the spring but due to an earlier availability, the WAG was able to screen the popular event twice.

Selections from the show include both obscure and recognizable advertisements. Advertisements such as “The Old Spice Guy” by American brand Old Spice and the “‘Sorry I Spent it on Myself’ Gift Collection” by English department store Harvey Nichols are screened at the event. Many of the commercials also deal with serious themes in the span of seconds, including Colgate’s “Close the Tap” commercial, presenting the importance of water conservation.

“Many are very poignant and deal with serious subject matters such as water conservation, drug abuse, and the ramifications of drunk driving,” WAG public relations co-ordinator Tammy Sawatzky told the Manitoban.

“You will definitely laugh but you might also be close to tears, too.”

The WAG continues to provide Winnipeggers with recognizable, yet innovative approaches to familiar concepts and creators. In September of last year, the gallery staged an exhibit, Dalí Up Close, on the Spanish surrealist. While most may be familiar to Dalí’s popular work such as “The Persistence of Memory,” the exhibit featured the artist’s later work, including many unearthed sketches and paintings.

The relationship between aesthetically-pleasing paintings like “Santiago El Grande” and straight-to-the-punch marketing ploys may be seen as more of a stretch insofar as what constitutes “art.” However, Sawatzky explained to the Manitoban the connection between screening the commercials and the WAG’s mandate to engage learning and inspiration through art.

“The festival believes creativity drives all things and the Winnipeg Art Gallery shares that belief,” said Sawatzky.

“Whether funny or serious, all the Cannes commercials start with an idea and work to creatively share that idea through visuals, words, and technology – and the WAG is the perfect venue to showcase these innovative works.”

The WAG presents the 2014 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity on April 1, 2, and 4. Tickets are $12 for WAG members, seniors, and students and $14 for non-members. They are available at wag.ca and the WAG (located at 300 Memorial Blvd).