Droga5 and Crispin Porter & Bogusky Nab Top Cyber Honors

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Ecko - Still Free
Ecko - Still Free
Newcomer Droga5 and veteran creative heavyweight Crispin Porter & Bogusky took home the top Cyber Grand Prix at this year's Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival. Droga5, the Publicis-backed creative boutique led by creative chairman David Droga, who is also chair of this year's film and press juries, was honored for Marc Ecko's "Still Free" viral film.

Volkswagen - Features
Volkswagen - Features
Directed by Smuggler's Randy Krallman, the short promotes the hip-hop clothier's graffiti-based video game and features a mysterious tagger who spray paints Air Force One. The viral triggered a wave of media coverage, causing the Pentagon to deny that any such defacing actually occurred. Crispin Porter & Bogusky, one of last year's winners for the top cyber honor, was this year awarded for its Volkswagen GTI web campaign featuring a customizable car that visitors can take for a virtual test drive with the buxom Teutonic engineer Helga.

As for what set the winners apart from the rest, the jury, led by Matias Palm-Jensen (CEO and co-founder of Farfar, Stockholm), noted that each was able to break out of category molds. "The one thing about Volkswagen is that the client, not just the agency, is behind the brilliant campaign, and it changed the perception of their product in the marketplace in the United States," said juror Steve Mykolyn, VP-creative director, Taxi, Toronto. As for Droga5's award-winning effort, "Like the GTI, it changed the way people think about the medium," Mr. Mykolyn said. "To have the Pentagon deny its existence and have CNN and Wolf Blitzer talk about it on the evening news makes for an amazing piece of advertising."

Winning a top honor for its first project out of the gate establishes a very early milestone for Mr. Droga's new venture, while Crispin's win cements the agency's stronghold in new media. Crispin was also named interactive agency of the year, garnering three golds and two silvers for work done on behalf of VW, Burger King and Mini. Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, was first runner up, earning five lions, including three golds for Comcast's "Comcastic" campaign and two projects for the California Fluid Milk Processors Advisory Board. DDB Brasil, last year's top interactive agency, was third in line with three lions, including one gold for Itau Insurance's "Crash" online ad.

Overall, the cyber entries this year hit a record high of 2,502, a 32% increase from last year. In total, 87 Lions were awarded, down from last year's 93, and 25 Gold Lions were awarded. The U.S. took home more Gold Lions (nine) than any other country: Besides Crispin and Goodby, other U.S. gold winners were Tribal DDB (for its Philips Bodygroom website) and Big Spaceship (for TBS' Department of Humor Study).

Trends the jury observed in 2006 included advanced integration of elements in cyber campaigns, as well as work requiring more active involvement from the consumer. "Whether it's tapping into a blog or consumer-generated media, half of the campaign is not completely controlled by us," notes Colleen DeCourcy, former chief creative officer of Organic who was recently named chief experience officer at JWT/N.Y. Taxi's Mr. Mykolyn saw the continuing theme of one-upsmanship. "I don't like to think of cyber as trend-based, because we're all very competitive and trying to do the next big thing. To sum up 2006 for me, if 'BMW Films' was 'Citizen Kane' and 'Subservient Chicken' was 'Star Wars,' then [in this year's Grand Prix winners], we found 'Blue Velvet.'"
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