Written by Young Dogs Bas den Bode and Niek van Beek for ADCN

On Wednesday 22 June the Creative Battle between Belgium and the Netherlands took place during The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. This was the second edition of the event, organized by de Persgroep Belgium, de Persgroep Netherlands, Creative Belgium and ADCN.

Because the Netherlands and Belgium are like neighbors, they often show typical neighborly behavior. They are envious of each other’s work; they make fun of each other and sometimes wish they were over at the other side. Before the battle started, the entire Dutch delegation was invited to watch the Belgium – Sweden match on the beach that evening. With pleasantries out of the way, it was time to let the creative battle commence.

Each country has selected three CD´s to pick out their favorite campaigns. Those campaigns will then be voted on by the audience using a simple sign. One side featuring a beer, the other side, a block of cheese.

The countries have an interesting dynamic. When the Dutch present a case like McTrax, a campaign by TBWA Amsterdam for McDonalds, the Belgians commented on how ridiculous the voice-over was, too American and pretentious. So in a way Belgium is like a best friend, a friend who supports you but also is not afraid to tell you if you’re acting like an ass. As a response it received some defending from the Dutch team. The fact that it creates a new use for the mobile phone, ever present at the dinner table, as well as the fact that it’s creating opportunities for musical collaboration and social interaction were praised.

In another round the Belgian ´Stardust For Bowie´ campaign competed against the Dutch ´Valentijnskus´ case. It´s a cute campaign about Valentines day and how putting a kiss on a postcard could be used to send it for free. The Belgians laughed at the idea of sending a card for valentines, calling it old fashioned and asked why dates are not taken out for dinner and a hotel. Niek Eijsbouts, Creative Director at Amsterdam agency Superheroes defended the campaign with praise for it’s simplicity and lauded the way it made an old fashioned medium easy to use and relevant again.

Even though it was officially a ´Creative Battle´ sometimes it came down to a battle of charities. If you put a charity campaign next to a tourism campaign, the audience tends to lean toward the charity. In the last round there was a charity showdown because the Dutch ´Free a Girl´ campaign was pitched against the Belgian ´Reborn waiting lines´. Basically a battle between human trafficking and organ donation waiting times, how do you figure out what you support more? And do you vote for creativity or for effectiveness? And lastly, do you vote for your own country or the country with the best work?

After an exciting neck-and-neck battle it was the Dutch that went home with the trophy. Later that night the Dutch switched sides when they joined to watch the Belgium – Sweden soccer match. Best frenemies for life.