Q&A: Jeff Benjamin, interactive creative director, Crispin Porter + Bogusky

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Some of most effective and creative interactive campaigns of the year-Burger King's "Subservient Chicken" and Mini "Men of Metal"-came to us courtesy of this man and his CP+B cohorts. Interactive creative director Jeff Benjamin takes us behind the medium.

C: How well is online/interactive/digital marketing integrated into the creative process? Is it still considered an extra by clients or is it included from the outset?

Benjamin: Clients are expecting interactive as part of the creative process more and more. At Crispin every creative is thinking about interactive regardless of whether they are responsible for it or not. And it's part of the initial thoughts for a campaign. We've gotten to a point where we don't even classify interactive ideas as nontraditional ideas. They're just ideas that people think up - and this is a medium just like print or TV is. And this shift in thinking has given way to some great ideas.

C: Is this area attracting talent to a sufficient degree? Where are the best people coming from?

Benjamin: We've been looking at portfolios for about a year now and it's rare we find someone we like. In fact, we've had more luck with people without experience in this space - students, video game designers, and traditional creatives who are excited about the potential of interactive space. I think a big reason for this is that the last 5 years of thinking towards interactive is outdated. What was once compelling and provocative was based on visual excitement and beauty - not on concepts. But that's no longer the case. The future of interactive requires us to reset not evolve on what we've been doing. And to think about it more conceptually. Consumers have become numb to our flash trickery. And I think the future visionaries, or at least people we'd like to talk to have no clue as to what was done before and are ready to defy what can be done now.

C: What will be the next milestone in online and interactive marketing and entertainment?

Benjamin: I don't know if anyone can predict something like that. I hope it's a surprise and something we at first can't explain. The best things that have happened to the internet were unexpected and almost magical. Things I'd like to work on in the future have interactive moving beyond the monitor and into other aspects of our life. We'll see cellphones play a bigger part in interactive thinking, projections we interact with. I think we'll also see more instances where the things we do in interactive work with print, TV, and other mediums to create larger interactive experiences like what we saw with the Mini "Robots" campaign we did and Sega's "Beta 7." It's an exciting time to be working in advertising.

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