digital, agencies, life, and other stuff

Adfest Cyber Lotus – first round impressions

Posted by Lee on March 5, 2009

A high proportion of the entries were ‘competent’ which is a big improvement on some shows I’ve judged, where a huge amount of entries were quite awful and probably the result of some of the bigger agencies flooding the shows with ‘volume’ over ‘quality’.

Is this a sign that standards are generally rising? Or just that these tough economic times have forced agencies to be more selective about what they enter? I’m not sure, but whatever the reason, it’s an encouraging trend. However, ‘competent’ will not win awards – competent is just a hygene factor.

Here are a  few general ‘first round’ thoughts.

We seem to be in a consolidation year, and with one or two exceptions, I didn’t see much that was ‘new’ from a technological point of view, but that’s fine, as it helps to ensure we focus on the creativity of the solution.

08/09 seems to have been the year of  the Branded UGC environment and I can imagine the meetings in clients boardrooms around the region:

Client: “We want to create an online community”

Agency: “OK, but why?”

Client: Because everybody is doing it now”

Agency: “OK, we’ll come back to you with a proposal.”

A few weeks later, the agency come back with their ‘idea’

“We’re going to launch a community site where people are challenged to upload their pic / movie / audiofile, and then view / vote / download to desktop / mobile / add to facebook etc. These people can also download branded screensavers / widgets / movies / wallpapers. We’ll then award a prize / trophy  to the person who gets the most votes from other site visitors”

Client: Excellent!

…… and without doubt there were a few that were engaging, interesting or fun, but what worries me is that we need to remember that UGC is a ‘technique’, and not a BIG IDEA. I waded through so many UGC projects that I started to go numb.

Some of the work was genuinely humorous, and that worked across many cultures, but something that seemed to be in  short supply was ’emotion’, perhaps we’re so focused on interaction that we’re neglecting putting the emotion into the work.

The entries that made me pause, or engage me stood out because they were obviously ‘on brief’ and were well observed, were developed around a genuine ‘idea’, and most importantly used  digital channels because they genuinely enhanced the idea, or brought it to life – in other words, played to strengths of the channel.

Round two judging starts in Pattanya on the 16th March, and I’m sure there’ll be some lively, constructive and passionate debate amongst the judges about which work will be the eventual winners.


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