R/GA's Greenberg Talks about Chairing Cannes' Cyber Jury

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The International Advertising Festival in Cannes started recognizing interactive work with the launch of the Cyber Lions in 1998, which this year's Cyber jury president -- R/GA CEO/Chairman/CCO Robert Greenberg -- says was probably a good time to start. "It's interesting to look back and understand that the (interactive) industry is probably only ten years old," he says, citing 1995 as its effective starting point. "No matter how one measures it, it's not a very old one." In its early days, Greenberg says, "the interactive business was treated not just as a stepchild but as the last five minutes of a probably over-length presentation, as what they call presentation candy. So going back to '98, forgetting about the better, more relevant and measurable work that was starting to appear, I think that within the advertising business, it was still thought of as a third-rate category. But in the last couple of years it has assumed a higher profile and greater importance to clients and agencies. I think that everyone from the top down -- clients and agencies -- takes it very seriously now, so the category is gaining a lot of momentum and relevance." In fact, Cyber entries were up nearly 25 percent this year.

As jury president, Greenberg says he's keeping an eye out for work that advances the industry and exploits interactive's particular characteristics. "I think there are viral aspects, there are cultural aspects, and there are community aspects to cyber that are all very important to look for, and then there's technology -- is it pushing the technology in a new way?" He is looking especially to automotive and retail commerce as categories ripe for innovation. "I think that automotive is interesting, I think that they have found that the interactive aspect of the purchase path for a car has become so important that there is a huge amount of competition going on online for better sites. In retail commerce, technically speaking it's become very complex because of the back-end integration and the purchase path and the upsell and the tie-in to real data -- it's going to be an interesting one." He's also looking to viral and mobile advertising and, particularly, films made for the Internet, like Nike's 'Art of Speed' site, which R/GA had a hand in designing. "It fits into the model I've been talking about for a long time, which is '2 minutes x 120 minutes wide,' which just means there will be more films and games and demos -- activities that will be experiential. I think there may be a category down the line that will just be 'Best Experience.' That's where it's leading to -- where you can create something where your particularly segmented audience would spend a lot of time with your brand in an experiential way." As for this year's Cyber Grand Prix, Greenberg says he is anticipating "serious discussion among the judges to try to figure out what a Grand Prix winner is."

"I think it has to be more than it has been, generally speaking, in the past," he says. "It has to have something very innovative about it -- it has to be creatively really strong. Also I think, even without having metrics to guide you, you have to look at what you feel the success of it might have been." Greenberg also points to the recently established Titanium Award as another area of interest. "I'm not aware of anything that is as groundbreaking as BMW Films was the last time I was a judge," he says, referring to 2002, when he sat on the Cyber jury that awarded a Grand Prix to the hard-to-classify BMW campaign. "But I hope that there might be something like that."

The winners of this year's Cyber Lions will be announced on Wednesday in Cannes. -Teressa Iezzi

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