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Cannes International Advertising Festival 2006 (2006)

Even cromagnons appreciate 30 seconds of product placement

Genre: Advertising Shorts (International)

Overview: The 2006 selection of the world's funniest and most important commercials of the year.

Over the holidays, I was expressly avoiding film for fear of having to set aside valuable time reserved for to write reviews. I remedied the need for visual stimulation by watching TV. Vegging in front of the tube for a 44-minute hour is the easiest way of passing movie-reserved time, but only served to make me realize just how much I hate television.

For about a year now, my television habits have been reduced to The Weather Network, and Rogers On Demand. That means that my patience for television advertising has been replaced with, as Girlfriend Of Squish will attest, rage-filled, three-minute rants. Don't even get me started on advertisers digitally inserting product placements for shows now in syndication, like Friends.

I hate television because I hate commercials. I hate commercials because - simply put - slave-owning companies I wish would die try to sell me crap I don't need and bring this world one step closer to the brink. That's why I found it strange to be sitting there at a 116-minute advertising extravaganza for the third year in a row even though it didn't impress me when I saw the 2004 Cannes Ad Festival, or even when I went the year after for the 2005.

Given this growing hatred of The Corporation, I certainly had apprehensions of attending the Cannes International Ad Festival 2006, but let me be the first to tell you how impressed I was this year. First of all, they fixed the biggest problems with the previous years' presentations: they didn't show the same commercial three times as before, and it didn't end as abruptly as in previous years. I have a few recommendable favorites, yes, but rather than drone on about those, I'd rather rant about the ad that disturbed me the most: Smooth E Babyface Foam, a facial cleansing product from Thailand.

This is a 4-part comedy drama where an Asian tomboy hunts after her favoured pretty boy. Though the actual product placement was humourous (a tribute / satirization of the American 50s billboards with a motionless smiling woman holding the product next to her face in an extreme close-up), the undercurrent of this ad is disturbing in cultural context. Yes, the fact that the ideal of beauty being sold will get you the man you desire is bad enough, but that's to be expected. What's truly unnerving is that this Asian commercial is so completely Americanized that besides having the 'ideal model' as close to American as an Asian could be, we have the title of the Thai product in English, which serves not only to add poignancy to the name of the item, but helps create an English language culture in a country an ocean apart... and I thought mourning chopsticks was worthwhile... talk about homogenization.

And you can finally watch back, (Big) Brother!!
And you can finally watch back, (Big) Brother!!

Overall Rating: 82% (It Cannes And It Does)

Now you know what leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. Advertising. So go enjoy this. Those of you in Ottawa reading this still have until February 1st to check it out. This event attracts lost of people, so show up early!

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