CANNES, France: Unilever has been awarded the film Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival for an online ad promoting its Dove brand, a development being hyped as a coming-of-age for web marketing.

The film, called Evolution (pictured), was created by Ogilvy & Mather in Toronto and showed how an image of an ordinary woman could be manipulated by photography and computer enhancement to make her look like a glossy model.

It continued the theme of Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty, and gained a considerable amount of viral exposure after being posted on blogs and video-sharing sites such as YouTube, but did not receive substantial paid-for media support.

Speaking at the festival, Unilever's svp of global marketing services Simon Rothon, said: "I was here two years ago. There was an incredibly tense feeling, almost as if the industry was losing its confidence.

"But I found a lot of confidence at this year's Lions about agencies' ability to play all the keys."

The New York office of Saatchi & Saatchi, part of the Publicis Groupe, was named agency of the year at the festival, while Omnicom Group's BBDO received the title of network of the year.

Data sourced from Financial Times online; additional content by WARC staff