Nike Fuelband and Curators of Sweden Take Cyber Grand Prix

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The Cyber 2012 jury, led by Google Creative Lab Executive Creative Director Iain Tait, awarded two Grand Prix to pieces of work that represented extreme poles of the category: Nike Fuelband+, out of R/GA New York and The Swedish Institute/Visit Sweden's "Curators of Sweden" campaign, created out of Volontaire Stockholm. While Nike represented the more technologically sophisticated possibilities of the category, the Swedish campaign created global impact with a basic Twitter handle.


Nike Fuelband is a sleek, simple wristband that allows its wearers to track the calories they burn not just through their workouts, but with any activity they do during the day in order to assess and improve their overall fitness through the Nike+ platform. They can also set daily goals for themselves and track their activity levels throughout the day. The Swedish Institute's "Curators of Sweden" campaign, launched at the end of 2011, handed over Sweden's national Twitter handle (@Sweden) to Sweden's natives in order to showcase the diversity of the Swedish national character, in effect, launching "The world's most democratic Twitter account." Each week, a new curator was chosen to man the account, including a writer, teacher, priest and lesbian trucker. The campaign sparked recent controversy for featuring an irreverent young mother named Sonja Abrahamsson who expressed anti-Semitic remarks but also inspired (American) comedian Stephen Colbert petitioning to be the first non-Swede to take over the account.


The head of the Cyber Jury was Iain Tait, the recently appointed exec creative director at Google Creative Lab, who previously served as global digital exec creative director-partner at Wieden & Kennedy and was instrumental to Old Spice's Grand Prix-winning "Responses" campaign. He was also co-founder of celebrated digital agency Poke, headquartered in London. Other jury members included Rei Inamoto, chief creative officer at AKQA, James Temple, VP-exec creative director at R/GA; Malcolm Poynton, chief creative officer at SapientNitro and Masashi Kawamura, creative director at Party.


According to jury president Mr. Tait, both pieces of work show "brands behaving a certain way. They're not about what they say or big noisy messages; they're about what they do -- they enable. That's something we were all excited by." Both winners "almost bookend the industry," he said. "At the one end @Sweden is very simple, very smart, very brave. Handing over the voice of Sweden to the people says so much about Sweden as a country. It doesn't have many layers in terms of complexity of message, but the more you think about it, the more exciting it is. It doesn't necessarily look like a Grand Prix winner, but it was very unanimous in that we all had a lot of love for this piece of work." Nike Fuelband was the polar opposite, " a huge, ambitious piece of work that had a lot of research and software development, but again, it's something that is part of people's everyday lives and really changes the relationship people have with Nike as a brand." The brands reflected a move away from storytelling to brands' behavior. "I was a little bit skeptical coming into this jury about finding anything groundbreaking and game-changing this year, but I think, after we went through the judging process this is a really pivotal, critical year, where, as Iain said, where brands have to shift from storytelling to behaving," said juror Rei Inamoto. "These two pieces aren't about storytelling. It's about brands behaving in certain ways and embracing consumers. This shift is more clear than any other year that I've seen, and I think the Sweden piece represents an aspect of it really well. It may be controversial but it's the behavior of the brand that people appreciate."


2 Grand Prix, 9 Gold, 31 Silver, 45 Bronze


The two Grand Prix winners were pretty clear.The jury considered awarding a third Grand Prix focused on craft "because there were some pieces that were incredibly strong executionally," said Mr. Tait. "But we decided the message that would send just got confusing, so picking these two pieces sent the message of what kind of work people should be creating." Jurors were also asked whether the controversy related to the anti-Semitic remarks of @Sweden campaign contributor Sonja Abrahamsson affected their decision. They took it into consideration, but "one of the things we respected about the campaign was the fact that they didn't censor or remove that blogger," said Mr. Tait. "It really says something about the country of Sweden, that it's prepared to say, 'There are people with extremist views that perhaps we don't all share.' It was very grown up about that and allowing people to have that conversation out in the open was one of the facets of that behavior -- the fact that they did that -- it's not going to make many more people want to go to Sweden, [but] at the same time it does show that they're passionate about freedom of speech and there's room for everyone in the country. The controversy was noted and discussed but at the end of the day, we were ok with it, even though we don't necessarily condone those kind of comments."


Along with the shift from storytelling to behavior, the jurors discussed how the work reflected how brands' relationship to consumers is an ongoing communication process. As juror Mr. Inamoto put it, "I was glad to see validated with this year's work and especially with the two Grand Prix, was the shift from 360-degree communication to 365 days of connection. I think there's been way too much obsession with 360-communication and integration when consumers and people don't give a shit about a poster or TV ad. ...these two pieces clearly make a statement about that fundamental shift that I think brands should be embracing."

WHAT THEY DIDN'T LIKE: According to Mr. Tait, the jury wasn't moved by "stunty" work that creates buzz but has little substance. "There's a kind of genre of work that's about misleading people, fakery, creating stunts to get people to talk about them, with no real regard for what it says about the brand," said Mr. Tait. "I think we did a really good job of weeding that out. The fact that we have not rewarded lots of that kind of work in here, I would like that to be seen by young creatives, agencies and clients as a clear statement that actually what you can do in these channels can be really important and can touch lives and can make people feel a different way rather than just a medium for people to go, 'Oh my God, did you see that thing?'"


The jurors expressed a desire to see more submissions in the tools category, as well as "evolved" entries of work in copywriting. According to Mr. Tait, "One of the sections we felt didn't really reflect the world as it is today is the tools section. There were only two pieces that made it to the shortlist. We know that there are people out there making phenomenal tools that would be great in this category. I just don't think agencies and the creative community have really engaged in the category and one thing we would love to see in the future is for people to submit tools and things people are using. I think it's a huge growth area and a place we'd love to see brands and agencies doing and submitting more work.

Also, according to Australian juror Ashadi Hopper, national creative director-digital and direct at JWT, they'd like to see a more "evolved" entry in the copywriting category. "You have a lot of brands that have a voice, for quite an extended conversation. You think about all the brands on Facebook and the unique tones of voice they're establishing, so it would be great to see some of that work being packaged up -- what does 12 months of Old Spice or Skittles look like on Facebook? At the moment we've got quite a traditional view on copywriting -- enter a viral video, a banner ad or website, but there could be a much more evolved entry."

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