Cannes Grand Prix won by L.A. Chipotle animated film

The 2012 Cannes International Festival of Creativity film jury deliberated last week and came up with a Grand Prix winner that — quelle surprise! — is genuinely deserving of the award.  

The top prize winner was a 2-minute 20-second animated film “Cultivate A Better World” from the Creative Artists Agency in Los Angeles for the Chipotle fast food chain.

What we liked most about the winning work is its single-minded focus on simply telling a good story and communicating a simple, straightforward message at the same time.

This is something the ad world, perhaps somewhat reluctantly, appears to have developed a renewed interest in after years of focusing more on overblown special effects, noise and clutter to try to grab the attention of distracted viewers.

In the case of “Cultivate a Better World,” the story is about a farmer who moves from simple farming to overseeing something akin to a giant agricultural complex, only to experience a crisis of conscience that compels him to return to his original, simpler ways.

Of course, it’s a potent message for our times.  

But what really makes this particular piece of work so compelling is the stark, simple way it tells the story via animation that is distinctive. fluid and memorable.  What makes the piece stand out even more is the music chosen to enhance the story’s impact, namely a Willie Nelson cover of Coldplay’s “The Scientist.”  

Willie Nelson in the Chipotle filmNelson’s plaintive, unfussy musical style perfectly fits the mood of the piece.  And this most effective choice of music only underscores another point we have been making for years — namely that when carefully selected and brilliantly executed, music can make a good commercial infinitely better. That is certainly the case with “Cultivate A Better World.”

As for Chicago’s impact at the 2012 Cannes ad fest. Well, it was next to nil, unfortunately.  After Digital Kitchen/Chicago’s big Grand Prix win last year in the design category, the local ad industry was unable to come up with anything this year to match DK’s 2011 impressive victory.

With so many accounts in play at ad agencies hereabouts in recent months, perhaps local shops have been too busy familiarizing themselves with new accounts or looking for new business to be able to focus on creating major, award-winning work.

Maybe next year will be better for Chicago at Cannes? We can only hope.

Contact Lewis Lazare at