Editor's Letter

By Published on .

As the awards season pulls into its home stretch, with Cannes looming like an oil-slicked client in a Speedo, the whole exercise has taken on an additional frisson, a few new layers of interest. That interest won't come-or won't only come-from a TV ad; there is no clear-cut spot home run this year, as all of this issue's Cannes predictors will attest. The precedent was set at the notoriously and blessedly hardass D&ADs, where only two TV efforts were recognized (aside from craft awards)-and then only for Silver Pencils. The Gold (or Black) Pencils were reserved for design work. D&AD jurors may have been sending a message about the work being a product of less than inspired times for the ad industry, but a by-product of a low key TV year is that it's turning a brighter spotlight on the work outside of category lines, and how it will be judged. The past year or so has seemed to represent a milestone for the beyond-TV idea, with attention getting, original work like Wieden's Sega "Beta 7" campaign, Crispin's work for Mini and Burger King, and Publicis' Hype Gallery for HP setting standards for creativity, and now, those garter-wearing chickens are coming home to roost.

The "Beta 7" campaign (included in Creativity's January Ad/Design Review) has already been cited on the award circuit and is pegged for recognition of some kind at Cannes. But what kind? The campaign recently scored at the Art Director's Club Awards in the newly established Multi Channel category. In his role as president of the ADC, Bob Greenberg, founder of R/GA, had been working to ensure that the ADC was "a club where people would want to go to find out where advertising communications and design were going," and he pushed to get the Multichannel segment added to the annual awards. Greenberg acknowledges that as the head of an interactive agency (who also has experience across a range of media), he has a clear perspective on multichannel programs as no longer a neato afterthought, but as something that is considered at the outset as an overall part of the media mix. He's sure to bring that perspective to Cannes in his role as president of the Cyber Lions jury.

The newish Titanium Lion will certainly be a handy catch-all for original, category defying projects, but the jurors, particularly the Media and Cyber jurors, will no doubt face even longer and more rigorous debate when it comes to handing out the Gold, Silver and Bronze beasts in their categories. No longer will being different, or just using a new platform for an idea be enough; the work-and the juries-are at a whole other level.

So, even those who deplore awards shows may recognize their added value this year-as they bring further attention and debate to new kinds of work (and the current industry infrastructure's awkwardness in dealing with their creation and recognition) and make it clear that the glory isn't just in making another Guinness "Surfer."

And as for the Cannes festival's other special quality this year, the debate about whether too many clients will ruin the Cannes pudding can be answered simply. If the tone of the event stops reflecting the nature of its core constituency, then the answer will be yes. The event is about creativity and therefore it's meant to have a mildly chaotic, spur-of-the-moment quality, to celebrate the mildly chaotic people who are still the driving force behind this industry. Clients should be welcomed and should be a part of that, not change the event into another seven day long reminder to agencies that advertising is no longer fun. If Cannes becomes meetingized, conferencized and sanitized, then let it just be another thing that advertising formerly owned that it regrettably gave away.

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