By hook and by crook, Cannes proves a winner ...

Sydney Morning Herald

Monday 25 June 2001
By Andrew Hornery, in Cannes

Mark "Chopper" Read's 30 seconds of television fame as the earless face of the Pedestrian Council's anti-drink driving advertising campaign has earned Australia a Gold "Lion" at the 48th Cannes International Advertising Festival.

But the commercial just missed out on the festival's Grand Prix award. An American advertisement for the cable television channel Fox Sports which showed a team of accident-prone sports presenters was voted the world's best ad for the past year.

The Gold Lion awarded to the Chopper ad's creator Sydney agency Saatchi and Saatchi was one of 24 given out from a field of 6,170 international commercials.

Entries from Australia were down this year, with 140 ads entered, against last year's 215.

Australia was also licking its wounds this year at Cannes. The local industry's reputation was sullied last year after Sydney agency Lowe Hunt & Partners was caught cheating at Cannes and forced to return an award it had won for a fake ad.

Although the "Chopper" commercial was considered controversial at home, it was not Reed's fame the one-time criminal has boasted of involvement in 19 murders that won the judges over at Cannes, according to the Sydney adman Mr Warren Brown, who represented Australia on this year's 23-member judging jury.

"Normally drink-driving campaigns from all over the world show someone drinking then getting behind the wheel of a car and killing or maiming someone.

"This one was different because it talked about the consequences of drink driving coming from someone like Chopper, who hasn't really led an enviable life," Mr Brown said.

"The jury had no idea who Chopper was ... it had to be explained. But it wasn't the talent which won the award, it was the concept."

Other Australian agencies to win this year included Perth's Marketforce, which won a Silver Lion, and Melbourne's M&C Saatchi, which will return home with a Bronze Lion.

View the'Chopper' Read Cannes Lion Gold Award 'Prison' Commercial