There were even more Lions than usual handed out at Cannes this year as the 2020 and 2021 awards were rolled into one gigantic show. In person attendance was almost non-existent which meant the applause was all virtual; there were no celebrations on the Croisette; and the gendarmes responsible for investigating sexual harassment in the South of France had a very quiet week.
Emerging most triumphant from this mercifully tranquil festival were London's AMV/BBDO who picked up the coveted Agency of the Year award, and New York's Chelsea Pictures who – like the London football team with whom they share a name – smashed it out of the park on a European stage by winning Film Production Company of the Year.
It's no coincidence that AMV and Chelsea were jointly responsible for one of Festival's most striking pieces of work: 'Womb Stories' – the Grand Prix winning film for Libresse/Bodyform directed by Nisha Ganatra.
At a time when the struggles of so many people around the world ought to mean that nobody gives a flying fig about advertising awards, it's gratifying to see that they have at least gone to companies with a genuine desire to effect positive change. In addition to the featured work for Libresse/Bodyform, Chelsea Pictures's triumph was built on work from Grey on behalf of an organisation called 'States United to End Gun Violence' and a campaign from the same agency which urged individuals to 'Widen the Screen to Widen Your View'.
When incoming D&AD President Naresh Ramchandani said earlier this year that he was "looking forward to exploring how creatives and their agencies can engage with their social impact", he was derided on social media and by well-known industry commentators for identifying the importance of these themes.
But it would seem from the purposeful lean towards 'social impact' demonstrated by this year's Grand Prix winners at Cannes, Ramchandani's approach represents a welcome change which has been embraced elsewhere, and those complaining about it are only ensuring their own irrelevance.
It's been an excellent year for AMV under the stewardship of CCO Alex Grieve and ECDs Nadja Lossgott and Nicholas Hulley. Grieve told DAVID how pleased he was when his agency triumphed at the British Arrows, and he's bound to have been even more pleased by the international recognition of the Cannes Lions.
For Chelsea Pictures the win could not have been more timely. Long established in New York City with a roster much more reflective of modern society than most film production companies, they recently opened a London operation and were wise enough to ask the most excellent Nell Jordan to preside over it for them.
And, like their footballing namesakes, having just won the biggest prize in Europe, Chelsea Pictures will be looking to dominate domestically in the coming 'season', and you'd be a fool to bet against them.
To pick apart this overwrought footballing metaphor with Nell Jordan, or simply to congratulate her on this triumph, email her using firstname.lastname@example.org or call her on 07725 735066.