Got Verdict?

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Over the past 10 years, San Francisco's Goodby Silverstein & Partners has won eight Gold Lions, nine Silvers, 10 Bronzes and one Grand Prix (for Nike's "Skateboarding" in 1998). Executive creative director Jeff Goodby himself, however, has been to Cannes exactly once - as a judge in 1993. "I kept meaning to go back," he says. "Something always came up." That year the Grand Prix went to an animated Japanese campaign for a noodle soup, a controversial pick that embroiled Goodby in one of Cannes' frequent, and frequently abusive, creative imbroglios. "People accosted me when I walked out of the final awards ceremony," he says. "'How could you vote for that crap?' But my attitude was like, 'Hey, so the world doesn't agree with you. What the hell?' "

Goodby plans to bring the same attitude to this year's festival, where he's jury president, a post he's anticipating with almost devilish glee. "I've always liked and respected Cannes," he says. "I'm fundamentally an optimist, and Cannes is the most optimistic place, and the least cynical. Yeah, there's all this yelling and screaming and egotistical types, but people there like advertising." As for the judging itself, "it should be fun!" he thunders. "There should be arguments! I don't want people sitting around with their pinkies up, drinking tea." At the same time, Goodby recognizes that too much fragmentation could spell disaster, as it almost did last year when the Print jury, led by Saatchi & Saatchi's Bob Isherwood, failed to reach a majority after three hours of debate. (Isherwood eventually moved to overrule the need for a majority.) "The worst that could happen," says Goodby, "is that there won't be enough really good work and things become very fractured. And that's a possibility this year. There are no clear front runners, at least as far as I know. But remember the year Frank Lowe didn't have a Grand Prix? That was a real debacle. I want to avoid that at all costs. The point of Cannes is to archive the work of the year. It's like wine; just because the grapes aren't good that year doesn't mean you don't drink wine."

Inebriation aside, the jury president's job - to oversee two juries of 22 people each, from almost as many countries - is a diplomatic and political challenge. While Goodby says he has no problem with blatant lobbying in the confines of the judging room, after-hours rallying will be strongly discouraged. "I don't mind people openly trying to get others behind their point of view. I just don't like when it happens covertly, in the bars at night. That's why I'll be in the bars every night, making sure that doesn't happen. At least that's what I told my wife." But during the day, Goodby will have to tone it down on the Croissette. "I won't be able to pull the old, 'Go out and see whose name is on the front of the building' crap," he says. "I'll have to pay more attention to people disagreeing with me."

Nevertheless, don't expect Goodby to totally hide his independent streak. If he has his way, for example, previous awards shows won't count for squat at Cannes, "so put the Pencils back in the closet," he advises. "I don't think we should put any merit on what won at prior awards shows. People always say, 'Well, that won at the One Show, that won at the Clios, so we better consider it.' But I think we should just decide what we like and what we don't, and that's the end of it." And if the world feels otherwise? "Well, I'm not afraid of being a little bit wrong."

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