Old 06-25-2008, 09:10 AM Offline   #1 (permalink)

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Default Interactive Advertising's Coming Out Party

Consider this:
A viral online video phenomenon won a Grand Prix at the Cannes International Advertising Festival that was usually reserved for only the best in traditional TV advertising.
A cyber campaign about a supposedly dying medium—yes, ironically, television—won another Grand Prix.
And a groundbreaking Japanese online effort for a clothing retailer won the most coveted creative prize of all, the Titanium Grand Prix, and had everyone gushing about the unlimited future of interactive branding.
Whatever you call it—online, interactive, viral, 360, or cyber—a new advertising paradigm has finally come of age after years of empty hype and broken promises.
"TV used to be the sun and all other mediums were merely satellites around it," said David Lubars, chief creative officer at BBDO New York, which was named the agency of the year. But this year's festival represented the first true global validation of the power of interactive work, he added.
"TV is still the only place where you can get 70 million eyeballs on an ad," Lubars said, "but now, if your message is engaging enough, you can get people to voluntarily spend 10, 20, 30 minutes, totally engaged with a brand."
Take the Titanium Grand Prix, which went to the 4-year-old production boutique Projector Tokyo for the breadth, depth, and refreshing level of consumer engagement of its work for the Uniqlo clothing retailer.
Projector's creative director, Koichiro Tanaka, said the challenge was to create a relevant, portable experience. The result combines user-generated media and the Uniqlo website with a nonstop fusion of dance, sound, and viral video. It's available via product catalogs, screensavers, ringtone downloads, and customizable T-shirts. There isn't a single 30-second TV spot to be found.
Other notable interactive Grand Prix winners include 42 Entertainment's "Year Zero" viral campaign for Trent Reznor and a new Nine Inch Nails album, as well as T.A.G. and McCann Worldgroup's imaginative "Believe" campaign for Halo 3.
But the Uniqlo work was seen as a seminal, barrier-breaking moment. While the Nine Inch Nails and Xbox work benefited from an already rabid audience eager to glean clues about a favorite artist or game, Uniqlo managed to be compelling and immersive in the relatively unsexy business of clothing retailing. With retailers, expectations are low and websites often offer little more than online catalogs.
Entertainment and social-responsibility advertisers have had interactive hits, but Uniqlo is among the first to show that an interactive effort can be breathtakingly creative, engaging, viral—and, most importantly, still increase sales.
"The industry is always talking about viral," said Titanium jury panelist Jean-Remy von Matt, founder and member of the board. "The Uniqlo work is viral-branded utility. It's so simple, smart, and beautiful. All over the world people have it on their desktops, giving them a brand presence in countries where their products don't even exist."
Mark Tutssel, chief creative officer of Leo Burnett Worldwide and jury judge of the Titanium and Integrated Lions, said that more than the film award, the Titanium Grand Prix has become the most prestigious honor in the industry.
"It's a glimpse into the future of what we do," Tutssel said. It is, he added, "the most prestigious [award] and the new standard for what everyone should work for."
The compelling nature of interactivity was also apparent in the august Film Lion Grand Prix for the best TV ad. Fallon London won for its "Gorilla" short, which it created for Cadbury Dairy Milk, a British chocolate bar.
Originally intended for the British market only, the film, which features a gorilla playing a drum solo while listening to the Phil Collins song In the Air Tonight, spread virally on the internet. Even better, it generated thousands of consumer-produced remixes. Total views on viral-video platforms by fully engaged audience members: close to 10 million.
The fact that the Film Lion went to a viral-video hit that became interactive, and that many awarded campaigns crossed or defied categorization, says much about the transitional state of the industry and gives Cannes Festival leaders something to ponder for next year's awards.
But, because Cannes is one of the few for-profit advertising-awards shows and the cost of entering work is more than $1,000 (there were 28,000 entries this year), don't expect fewer categories or awards at the 2009 festival. Just more award-winning work that transcends traditional labels.

<em>More coverage of the Cannes International Advertising Festival and advertising in general can be found here on Portfolio.com.


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