At Cannes: Wieden will reward innovation

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In his role as president of judging for film, print and posters for the upcoming Cannes International Advertising Festival, Dan Wieden will be looking for ads that point the way to advertising's future.

Rather than look back and celebrate the best ads in categories with criteria established in the past, Mr. Wieden said he believes the Cannes judges should instead seek out work with "a sign of where things could be going, the antenna to indicate a new landscape. I hope that's what we can focus on."

Mr. Wieden-who rarely partiipates in award-show judging-said he uses that same criteria at his Portland, Ore. independent agency, which topped the 2002 Gunn Report, a ranking of the most-awarded agencies in the world.

His statement follows criticism last year that the Cannes awards are too focused on creative TV spots and do not look at where the industry is headed. Controversy, for example, surrounded BMW Films-a big winner in other award shows that was passed over by Cannes' media and TV judges, though it won the Grand Prix in the cyber jury.

Mr. Wieden, who recalls his reaction to being asked to head the panel by covering his face with his hands like a child being forced to eat Brussels sprouts, sheepishly added "if" to any suggestion he will influence the most prestigious award show in the business. He maintained he's not being unduly modest. So far, all he has been asked to do was clear his calendar for two weeks and to suggest two judges. He submitted Andy Berlin, co-founder of WPP Group's Berlin Cameron/Red Cell, for TV and Gary Koepke, a founder of Modernista!, for print, but is not certain they will in fact be selected.

Mr. Wieden said one of the first things he did after agreeing to take the post was to call last year's president, Jeff Goodby, co-chairman, Omnicom Group's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, who recommended writing and calling all judges ahead of time for an introduction. "It makes you the focal point when you arrive," Mr. Goodby said, and has the added benefit of preventing the formation of cliques of judges from various regions.

no boos

Mr. Wieden also points out that he`s not too keen about those infamous ghost ads. "The ghosts better be taken care of," said Mr. Wieden. "I have no patience for that kind of stuff. That's not the discipline we work with. We work with real clients" who face today's business issues.

In any case, Mr. Wieden is bound to find that the festival and its international hiring-hall atmosphere provide a good look at the world's hottest talent. "We're not solving geo-political issues," noted Mr. Wieden. "It's just advertising and we're having a lot of fun."

contributing: laurel wentz

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