The Cannes Q&A: Organic's N.Y. GCD Conor Brady and Detroit GCD Sam Cannon

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Conor Brady (left) and Sam Cannon
Conor Brady (left) and Sam Cannon
What are your impressions so far of this year's festival?

Sam Cannon: Well, everyone's talking digital, wherever you go, which is to be expected, but what's really nice is that not only are people talking about it in broad strokes, but they're getting into the how, and why, the real meat of digital campaigns. There's almost a logical continuum, when it's a new shiny object everyone talks about it in big, bright wide eyed strokes, then you actually get to that next phase where you appreciate it for the craft that it is and talk through it. We just came out of a content showcase that EVB was putting on. They do a lot of complicated stuff with video, similar to some of the stuff that we've done lately, and it's really nice to hear other people talking about the same problem, the angles they came at it from because that's actually something I can take back and share with my team and learn from, as opposed to, "The internet's going to be huge!" It's like, "Yeah, we know."

What specifically did you find helpful or fascinating?

Sam: Every project now involves some kind of video component, and it's increasingly complicated not only in the way you arrange a film production, but also because of the interactive component you want all this content you shoot to be malleable and as a fluid as people come to expect on the web. That's a lot of what they deal with, and there's the Way-Beyond Trail site that we did. A lot of that is short little segments, allowing it to be a nonlinear storyline, inserting aspects of personalization throughout. They're facing a lot of the same issues, so it was really nice to hear them not only show the work but also talk about how they got through it.

Conor Brady: The production values is the one thing I find really interesting, using the equivalent of full on production teams that you'd associate with TV production. I think two years ago at the festival, there was none of that here. It didn't exist.There wasn't the broadband to push it and then there wasn't the client that wanted it. Now there's the client that's asking for it and now we have the technology to deliver it. Now, with this much more level playing field between interactive and traditional whereas before interactive was kind of like the sideshow. Now actually I think we're using the same tools, working with the same production companies, delivering the same type of content, with the same quality.

Anything else you've found compelling?

Conor: We're trying to figure out some of the new technology that's going on and there was a really good talk on ambient technologies and there was this one yesterday on, essentially the big joke that everyone makes-Smellovision. It was phenomenal, there we were sitting in this auditorium and the guys were talking about how they could put a unit that releases scent in the cinema. It can be released within two seconds and dispersed within 10. There we were sitting in the auditorium and they put on this ad they did for Nivea in Germany. It's a beach scene, nothing's happening and all of a sudden you're smelling the beach and the tagline was "The smell of summer." It was phenomenal. Now that's a great use of technology.

So you guys have a workshop on Thursday?

Conor: Yes, on viral marketing. We've been talking about it for a long time and a lot of people are talking about it. But then the awards, it's a very small category, a sub category of a subcategory, which I'm kind of surprised about because it's top of mind for practically every brand you talk to. What makes it viral? We've made an attempt to put in a definition of the combination of qualities that go into making viral successful.

Sam: We were joking about it earlier, [the viral category] is almost like having a "success" category. Joke aside, viral I think as a genre is also very much run and gun. It's very much you put your best ideas on the table and see what takes off. The more you think about it, the more you deliberate on it, the more it becomes a campaign and it going to be difficult for it to be truly viral partly because the inevitably, you'll take yourself more and more seriously the more you fuss with it and if you look at the common denominator you have people dancing in your underwear-that's what we're competing with. You can't think too hard about it.

As for the competition itself, what do you think will win in Cyber?

Sam: I think we should win for automotive, we just got shortlisted. There's been a lot of neat stuff, but I don't think I have one thing which I think hands down is the winner, which from what I hear is the consensus in many categories. I'm mentally skimming the list, but seriously, nothing jumps out to me.

Conor: It's a good thing you're not judging this year (laughs). I kind of go a bit which seems to be one of the show favorites, the Nike+ site, it's a great brand experience, a great customer experience because it's so usable and the fact that it's evolved into this community thing. I think everybody's gravitating toward it because it reaches across everything, everybody could make a connection with, which is why it's bubbled to the top for me.

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