Paul Nagy’s Cannes Lions 2024 recap – Part 2: The Grands Prix

| | No Comments
Paul Nagy’s Cannes Lions 2024 recap – Part 2: The Grands Prix

Paul Nagy, APAC chief creative officer at VML represented APAC on the Cannes Film Lions jury. Here, Nagy shares his insights following the Festival, exclusive to Campaign Brief.


It’s quite a responsibility to award the two best pieces of film globally for an entire year, so I thought it might be interesting to highlight the reasons why we chose Orange’s ‘la Compil des Bleues’ and Sydney Opera House’s ‘Play it Safe’.

One of the main questions I’ve been asked about ‘la Compil des Bleues’ was craft, because it is not a perfectly crafted piece of film and the typography, the narrative arc, the end sequence and even the hero retouching itself could all have been perfected.

This generated a lot of debate within our jury, and a lot of gnashing of teeth amongst the film purists in the industry. But in the end we decided that we are the Film Jury, not the Film Craft Jury… our job was to celebrate the best films of the year, and despite imperfections, this film made a huge dent in the world that cannot be denied.

I first saw it – not because I read it on some ad blog – but because my daughters, friends and family in Australia, could not stop talking about it. That is the power of a great film… it can become infectious, rippling around the world generating surprise, emotion, delight and debate.

And while there were many other more highly-crafted examples of film in our final winners, none had the fresh, surprising impact of this one, and it could not have been delivered with the same power in any other form than film. So I’m very glad we got to reward it.

As for ‘Play it Safe’? Well to me, this was almost flawless.

Tim Minchin, using world-famous Australian irony, sings us a song about the importance of avoiding risk and ‘going with the flow’… all from the stage of arguably one of the most creative buildings on the planet: the iconic Sydney Opera House.

It’s not just an ad, it’s a spectacular, moving, mini-musical. A complete, perfectly-executed masterpiece that draws you in with matter-of-fact, comforting words of conservatism, while at the same time confronting you with artists, historic cultural moments, and architecture that is anything but.

Yes, it is about that incredible building that has come to represent all Australians, but it’s also about so much more. It’s a love letter to the world, reminding us that only by embracing change do we get to experience something truly new; that only by keeping an open mind do we get to see world from an inspiring new perspective. It could easily be the anthem for the Cannes Lions itself, and the standing ovation it received from the Palais on the final night seemed to confirm that.

By mixing genres, tempos and historical footage, ‘Play it safe’ becomes something that gets better and better every time you watch it. There’s tears, laughter and everything in between, along with a strong uppercut of self-reflection – all things that every film-maker in advertising should be aspiring to.

Please watch it if you haven’t already. Then watch it again and again. It’s important and wonderful, and I’d like to congratulate Tara Ford and her team at The Monkeys… you made me very proud to be an Australian.