Michael Lebowitz on One Show InteractivePosted on Tue Mar 17 2009
Michael Lebowitz, founder and CEO of Big Spaceship, is jury chairman for The One Show Interactive. During the four days of judging, he filed daily reports from the jury room for AdFreak.
Day Four: Friday, March 20
The final day was by far the most inspiring. Many discussions of where we are and where we hope we're going as an industry. Jurors felt strongly about individual entries and advocated for them with conviction. Everyone believed in what we're doing, collectively, to advance this industry. But no one lost their individual perspective, professional or cultural. I was proud to be part of this group.
The major theme that emerged from these four days is that the work increasingly defies categorization. It's marketing, it's innovation, it's product, it's social—all at once. Ideas, insights, strategy, craft are inseparable. It's an exciting time.
I got as many jurors as I could to give me their final thought on the last four days. They sum it up it better than i ever could:
• Ashley Ringrose: "A lot of work that makes you jealous. Which is good."
• Dominique Trudeau: "In a world of automotive greenwashing, Fiat eco:Drive is authentic and useful."
• Tim Barber: "The app steps up, and the microsite steps aside."
• Flo Heiss: "The quality of digital is picking up again. A great shift from advertising to marketing to product development. And there were a lot of hairy entries."
• Joakim Borgstrom: "I want to live in a banner."
• Paul Clements: "great to see a dialogue with consumers rather than a monologue"
• Daniel Granatta: "I don't how how to categorize work anymore."
• Gemma Butler: "It's been a wonderful Great Schlep."
• Michael Ferdman: "I was surprised how hard it was to define or categorize entries, and that is a very positive sign for our industry. Walls are collapsing into each other ... products, product innovation, mktg, etc."
• Ian Lynch Smith: "I was suprised that it was so much about innovation as creativity: about what's next, more than just advertising."
• Johan Valkidis: "Simple. Data gone fun and entertaining."
• Aaron Griffiths: "It's important to celebrate the work the work of what's to come, not just the best of what we've done."
• Mike Geiger: "This event must have been one of my most inspiring weeks ever—I was blown away"
• Ed Robinson: "The impression I am left with, beyond swimming nightmarish images of loading bars, is that microsites are dead. I won't miss them."
• Iain Tait: "I have a greater sense of inadequacy than ever before. Thank you, on behalf of my future therapists."
• Neil Robinson: "We saw some great work this week. Work that challenged categories and our preconceptions. It's super encouraging to see the 'industry' go beyond the craft of microsites and Flash and to put big ideas first. Sadly, still too many spoof online documentaries. No more, please!"
• Ingrid Bernstein: "Amazing opportunities for brands to own the medium."
• Dan Fietsam: "Besides Uniqlo's command of branding, e-commerce, design and vibe, their idea of 'research entertainment' was the most inspiring paradigm jump for me."
• Jason Koxvold: "This week has been exhausting and elating, sifting through hundreds of great entries. For me, the two clear outcomes: that good interactive work is becoming harder and harder to categorize; and useful, truthful work that crosses these genres and blurs the line between product and marketing will be increasingly successful in the coming years."
• Ted Persson: "These four days have been filled with a lot of still-sitting (I haven't been sitting still for this long time since ... ever), existential questions (what is a banner?), interesting snacks (a bowl filled with hard-boiled eggs), inspiring people, and of course a lot of fantastic work (extra kudos to some of the very poetical Japanese entry descriptions). Extremely well-organized and rewarding. Three thumbs up."
Day Three: Thursday, March 19
Hey, it's Ash here from BannerBlog, filling in for Michael, who had a family emergency, and blog posts don't fall high on the list of things to do when they happen.
Well, Thursday was day three and the first time we as a jury had all judges as one unit and, as opposed to Cannes, all judging is done anonymously. We all have handheld devices (very hi-tech), and we all vote with little visible influence from anyone else. It's still a rating from 1-9.
With 160 pieces to get through, we had a quick pace to maintain, and I believe we got through 85 today. So, on schedule. Pieces which everyone had seen previously or were simple to grasp were much easier than the more complicated and larger projects. There were some that caused much debate, like Diesel's campaign. Some argued "this is the purpose of the campaign," and rightly so. Probably the biggest confusion and discussion was around categories. Also: "Is this a banner?" "Why is this in community?" "What is a campaign?" were all echoed. Although in a room full of interactive CDs, a question like "What is a campaign, a series of microsites?" surprized me. See Iain's tweet on this.
Campaign overview videos again are a must, and unless your campaign, site, game, app, widget or whatever is obvious, you need a campaign overview video. That doesn't mean a 10-minute epic; it just means, "Tell me WTF this is about so I can explore more and not miss anything."
I was a little surprised by the candy basket from Firstborn. Maybe because I assume no one does anything nice these days. I'm now buzzing from the tin of M&M's consumed.
More photos from the day here. That's me in the yellow 24 shirt. Aaron Griffiths from Ogilvy New York also posted his thoughts here.
Overall, the standard of work is very solid. There are few "game-changing pieces," but there is a crowded top level of quality work coming through. Japan and European countries (I'll put Scandinavia in that basket, too) are dominating the entries. The U.S. following up, then Brazil, with a sprinkling of Aussie work.
One surprising thing is there was only one blog and one e-commerce site in our list of 160. I'm not sure whether to be saddened or inspired to be better by this turnout. We all seem to be seduced by the sexy microsite still.
You can follow me on Twitter at @100ftzombie, along with many of the other jurors. I wonder if the other One Show juries will be so connected?
Make sure to check Twitter Search for #oneshow, as it's a good sign if your work get's mentioned. Lucky we won't get accused of a mistrial like this recent case.
Oh, and for those interested, lunch was a choice of roasted artichoke (the size of a baby's head), chicken and salad or a salad of steak. Followed by chocolate pudding and ice cream. We're doing it tough. :)
I look forward to the final day of judging, as the discussions and debates are a good learning experience.
Day Two: Wednesday, March 18
Today was a bit tougher. Bandwidth got tight and people got restless waiting for downloads, but more strong work emerged. As we're all a little more worn out, I'm going to keep this post short in hopes that tomorrow, as we delve into the discussion portion of the process, there will be much to say.
Some of today's entries that really stood out to me were:
• The Bruce Lee ping pong viral video for Nokia. Seen it before. Love it more every time.
• A wildly clever and subversive campaign out of New Zealand called The Stealth Banner that involved sneaky media buying and a time-bomb banner. The industry should take notes on risk taking. Brilliant.
• Two equally good campaigns using WiFi hotspot names as contextual advertising messages.
• Another great use of space played with ASCII cars driving through the URL in the address bar of the browser.
Also good to see more good thinking in branded tools/function and persistent brand platforms. Some entries demonstrate nicely that a campaign is not always the way to go. Nike+ is not the be all end all, it's a brilliant beginning.
One little rant: If you're going to use games as part of your campaign, then make good games. It's not a game just because you combined an interaction and a goal. It's a mediocre activity. Look at GameHouse, Freeverse (a fellow juror's company) or Rockstar. Different platforms, game types and styles, but all understand how to engage deeply with their games. Not saying it's easy. It's not.
Day One: Tuesday, March 17
This morning I talked about how we're entering what I think of as the third age of the commercial Web. In the early days, we had to figure out how to do everything, so it was focused on technical wizardry and pushing technology as far as we could. Then, the digital folks had to prove that their production values could be as high (and higher) than traditional TV spots, which seemed to culminate (and set a high bar) last year. This year, my hope is that we'll see more focus on the insights that drive great digital ideas. Ideas that play to the strengths of the medium, and evolve it.
So far, the work at this stage is quite thoughtful. And the consensus among the One Show Interactive jury seems to be that quality is high.
If there's a theme emerging for me, it's the significant challenge of creating work that manages the delicate equilibrium between leaving room for people to connect without getting beaten over the head with "advertising"—and becoming so esoteric that there's no significant brand connection.
Our friend Henry Jenkins says this really nicely: "We don't post and share clips just because of what we have to say about the ad, but also because of what it might have to say about us, so the ad must be capable of [letting] users express something beyond their affinity for the product it promotes. Only when commercials have enough ambiguity in meaning that they give up control of their promotional function can they develop the gaps and spaces to become producerly. When that happens, instead of giving meaning to a pair of sunglasses, the ad itself becomes a cultural commodity not unlike a pair of designer sunglasses that we can 'wear.' "
I also keep asking myself, as I do with our work at Big Spaceship, "What's the value exchange here?" If we're expecting more than we give, then it fundamentally doesn't work.
What we do is really hard.
Apparently Twitter has ruined me for any longer-form communication, so short random thoughts:
• Some advice for award show entrants: Don't say "the first ever..." or "the ultimate..." It's not, and your hyperbole doesn't help you.
• Some advice for everyone: Remember what Mingus said. "Anyone can make the simple complicated. Creativity is making the complicated simple." Not always easy to remember with a deadline crashing, but important to always strive.
• The industry still hasn't grasped the value of investing time to make things available to search engines.
• There's different levels of bandwidth in different countries, and it's hard to shift perspective accordingly.
• Twittering while judging opens up the experience. Good fun. (See @bigspaceship)
• Sometimes you wish there were a little more attention paid to design fundamentals, like typography, and tech fundamentals, like polite loading, though great ideas seem to shine through.
• The iPhone announcement on Tuesday was wildly distracting (and game changing), but provoked some good offline conversations. Mobile should be huge in next year's awards.
• A lot of strong Japanese work this year—and a lot of data visualization.
• Flo Heiss says: "I just shot two rolls of virtual film of a chicken in bathing suit. That's how easily pleased I am."
• Mike Ferdman hates seeing Firstborn's work being judged. Makes him feel naked.
• One of the finer ideas of the day from Daniel Granatta: "What about a Facebook-UploadHead-Connect? Once you upload your head, you're uploaded to every single site!"
• And I'll leave you with the sage words of Ty Montague: "As much as you hate it, it's always funny to see someone get hit in the balls."
Michael Lebowitz founded Big Spaceship in 2000 and serves as its CEO. An architect and board member of SoDA, the Society of Digital Agencies, he is also a member of AIGA's Visionary Design Council and the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences.
Speaking on creativity, innovation and the role of engagement in digital communications, Michael participates in and leads seminars across the globe, from MIT's Futures of Entertainment to the Click Conference to the One Club. He is also a frequent juror for creative awards, including the Cannes Lions, the Clio Awards and D&AD. Michael was recently named the chairman of both the 2009 One Show Interactive Jury and the D&AD Viral Jury.
He lives in Brooklyn with his wife Stacie and son Isaac.