Gary Koepke, Co-Founder/ECD, Modernista! Boston; Judge, One Show, Cannes

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What was the overall caliber of the work you saw this year?

Maybe it's just a personal thing, but I feel like everything I've seen looks exactly, smells exactly, and tastes exactly like advertising, which of course it's supposed to, I guess, but I'm starting to question if it really has to, if there isn't some other way to start communicating messages, or just tell better stories. There's a lot of formulas out there and we're just as guilty of them. Picture and headline, or clever copy and picture, and I'm kind of going, "Is that all there is, to advertising?" Because if it is, it's easy.

What stood out to you at the One Show?

There was some great stuff. I love the work for MTV Latin America. It was a brand new way of communicating an idea. It was really fresh. My pick for what I liked outside of what won was the rerelease of the Queen 3 CD Set. It's this great picture of Freddy Mercury with his arm up and all black behind him around like a live concert thing, and the headline was, "Adored by homophobes everywhere." I thought, now that's a good statement. One, it's just true, which I'm not sure a lot of advertising is, it was socially relevant, and culturally significant, which advertising needs to be. I'm not sure everybody's doing that.

What was your experience on judging the shows?

At the One Show, I don't like that we don't discuss finals with the other judges. Here, you have all these great minds, top ad people, Alex Bogusky was there, Eric Silver, Mike Hughes, you name it, and we never have to discuss why we like the piece or don't like the piece. It's private balloting. At Cannes, once it gets to the final round it's an open discussion. Then you have to get 15 of the 22 votes to pass it, and I love that. How great is that that you can actually talk to these other people that are creative directors about what they like or don't like about something? And I think that's a crucial thing about all awards shows, is to be able to discuss it with the other creatives, that way you learn something about what other people think. It makes for a much more vigorous discussion and it can change your perceptions of the creative to hear somebody else say why they think it's great.

At the One Show what distinguished the winners, gold, silver, and bronze?

I have no idea because nobody knows who voted for what. They got to a final round and we voted independently of each other.

What kind of guidelines did you use as a basis of judging, that were laid out in the beginning?

Excellence, creativity, I just used my own guidelines. And everybody used their own.

What did you learn from judging the shows?

One thing I learned in the last few months, having done the One Show and Cannes, is that creativity will always remain subjective and you better have some damn good validation as to why something is working for a client. Also, the work has to be damn good to win. I've learned that all judges are very harshly critical of work because they do it every day, so in order to get them excited about something it better be damn good. It better really stand out.

In the work you saw at the One Show, did it reflect any larger zeitgeist? Did the struggling economy show in the work?

I don't think the economy effects creativity, or it shouldn't. That idea comes before budget. I don't think MINI had a big budget, yet it was really smart, and I thought they did a great job and got the rewards for it. The Best of Show was awarded to them for their media use which was appropriate.

Did you observe any trends? Anything you wanted to see less/more of?

8.5X11 and 30 seconds. No trends, none in particular. I think the whole show just felt like we're seeing more of everything, and less of something we haven't seen. I don't think there was anything I wanted to see more of. I think maybe I'm suffering from seeing too much advertising in the last two months, having judged the One Show and Cannes. Information overload makes you feel like we're seeing that advertising is the same that it ever was. BMW did change the face of advertising. We should see more integrated and innovative marketing. There are a lot of cable networks out there that need programming, and I think advertising agencies should be given programming opportunities for their clients. I'm sure there are other places for agencies to go with their money, if the industry allows them to.

Did any one country stand out in terms of the quality of work?

I would say no, no country in particular stood out, but one thing I did notice was that you couldn't tell where the work was coming from. At the One Show, someone asked "Did you know that the jury only awarded 3 golds to the U.S. ?" I didn't. If anything, I think judges are more brand-prejudiced than they are country prejudiced.

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