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Insights From The Judges
A few of the 2011 MIXX Awards judges talk shop about what makes a winning entry, why teams should enter, breakthroughs on the horizon, their favorite campaigns, and more. Read the full interviews below and use their feedback to frame your next MIXX Awards entry.


“We look at the MIXX Awards as the most important digital awards, because they reward innovation, creativity and results, and because they are judged by representatives of the entire digital ecosphere.”
Brad Brinegar – Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, McKinney

Read the full interview
   
“The motivation to get involved with any advertising award scheme is always the same: you’re hoping both to experience and to support the most original and progressive work, to learn from those who are breaking new boundaries in the creative deployment of advertising spaces. MIXX is no exception and an especially important scheme because…”
Emma Cookson Chairman, BBH New York

Read the full interview
   
“What keeps me up at night? The dearth of talent that gets digital, thinks digital, and is expert at digital.”
Alberto Ferrer Managing Partner, The Vidal Partnership

Read the full interview
   
“I expect to see work that struggles to break from the legacy language of advertising, next to brave attempts to find a new language for an audience with the new expectations that networked media has delivered.”
Nick Law Executive Vice President, Chief Creative Officer, R/GA

Read the full interview
   
“If you have a full-on computer in your pocket at all times, which for most people will become their primary computing device, mobile becomes a fairly irrelevant concept as you are always mobile—but you are also always somewhere. So location + Internet will be extremely important.”
Benjamin Palmer – Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, The Barbarian Group

Read the full interview
   
“One of the most powerful interactive experiences is going back and forth from the real world to the online world. This is the year of tangible, live experiences that link back to online. That's as big as the year of mobile.”
Steve Wax Partner, Campfire, Ladies and Gentlemen, and ThirtySix LLC

Read the full interview

Entry Deadline: June 24, 2011
Submit Your Entry


What does it take to win an IAB MIXX Award?  MIXX judges reveal what defines Creativity & Impact in their eyes.


The MIXX Judging Experience
The 2010 all-star judging panel tells all.


Advertising Awards Shows - What is Best?
Returning judge Steve Wax details his experience.

 

 

Brad Brinegar
Interview with Brad Brinegar
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
McKinney



 
Q. What elements compose the best interactive campaigns? What sets excellent campaigns apart?
A. The best interactive campaigns do what all great advertising does: they engage people in a way that makes them not just willing, but eager to do business with you.  What sets them apart is the ability to actively enroll people in the conversation—and the ability to know, in real time, whether you’re moving the ball forward or not.  The one idea I reject about interactive is that it puts “the consumer  in control.”  Any marketer who believes that isn’t doing his job.  The consumer has always had the ability to accept or reject and promote or denigrate.  It’s amplified, magnified and accelerated by interactivity.  But that just makes the job of building brands and brand equity more complex—and infinitely more interesting.

Q. How much of your job is science and how much of it is art, and how has that changed throughout your career?
A. The science can help us understand what makes people tick, what about our work is resonating and how much to invest in different part of the conversations.  And it has certainly become a more important part of our efforts.  But I have to say that most of the value we create is in the art, in the creation of possibility that could not be anticipated by or generated by analytics.

Q. What's the best piece of advice you can give to aspiring creatives?
A. Technology is a means, not an end, and it changes every day.  People are pretty much driven by the same things that have always driven them.  And most of what they do is pretty irrational.  The most important thing you can do is become a student of human behavior, and really get to know the people whose behavior you’re hoping to affect.
 
Q. If you were totally free to have anything happen in interactive advertising, what would it be?
A. Have the tools to measure and understand the impact of interactive advertising on brand perceptions and longer-term actions beyond the click.
 
Q. Are you thinking that tablets and mobile mark a radical moment of change, or are they an extension of creative stuff you've already been doing?
A. Tablets are a radical moment of change.  Very few things have to fall into place for them to become our primary computing platform.  But as much as that, they create a lean-back, whenever/wherever entertainment platform that’s ideal for the kind of consumer engagement experience Apple envisioned with iAd.

Mobile has marked a radical moment of change for nearly a decade.  It has clearly given us opportunities to create new location-based brand behaviors, and it’s the ideal search platform at the very bottom of the funnel.  But as an advertising medium per se, we still have lots to figure out.  Of course, when tablets become phones, it will all take care of itself.
 
Q. What about location-based campaigns? Will they change how you do what do, and in which ways?
A. See above.
 
Q. Why is being a MIXX Awards judge important to you? What do you expect to see or experience?
A. We look at the MIXX Awards as the most important digital awards, because they reward innovation, creativity and results, and because they are judged by representatives of the entire digital ecosphere.  And when you’re at the show, you only get to see snippets of the winning entries.  As a judge, there is the opportunity to get the full story on all the contenders, and see who really is pushing the boundaries in relevant and interesting ways.

Emma Cookson
Interview with Emma Cookson
Chairman
BBH New York



 
I'm going to answer all these questions as they relate particularly to brand building OLA . Obviously, many interactive campaigns go way beyond actual 'advertising' and many others have more of a direct-response orientation, but my particular interest in this context is in improving the reputation and reality of online display advertising as a medium for building positive long-term brand image, awareness and preference.

Q. What elements compose the best interactive campaigns? What sets excellent campaigns apart?
A. I'll gloss over the obvious mandatories: any interactive advertising campaigns should be attention-getting, tailored to the format/user experience (no complex, sequential story-telling etc), have intuitive utility, communicate clearly, maximize the two-way and shareable capabilities of the interactive space etc. The additional element I think is often not sufficiently paid attention to in the interactive advertising space is 'branding'. By which I don't mean brand-prominence (brand names are typically flaunted big and loud in OLA - so no problems there): no, by 'branding' I mean brand-distinctiveness, ads which are characterized by a strong and distinctive brand identity. If you line up a selection of all the OLA in any given category it is depressing how often you are faced with a sea of sameness: whatever the environment, a brand should have its own distinctive, unique voice and style.

Then the even more important question: what sets excellent campaigns apart? (And I am constantly disappointed by how few examples of really excellent brand-building OLA campaigns exist). Excellence to me is all about originality. It comes from the surprise and delight of a totally fresh original execution. There's a 'wow' factor. Everyone still remembers those great PC vs Mac ads on the New York Times site: they were just so fresh, so different. I feel similarly proud of some of BBH's OLA work for Google: the 'Browse as fast as you think' online ads for example are so simple but so unique in the way they make their point.

Q. How much of your job is science and how much of it is art, and how has that changed throughout your career?
A. There's no doubt that the scale and complexity of the interactive advertising ecosystem has increased the need for mathematical, scientific expertise in advertising development. For the most part, however, the scientific perspective is needed to maximize distribution, optimization and measurement of online advertising. But if you're talking about brand equity building OLA (as opposed to offer-/promotions-based direct response campaigns), when it comes to the content-development aspect this is still as much an issue of craft and creativity as it ever was. Sure, you need to know some 'rules' of interactive advertising effectiveness, and you need to be up to speed on the possibilities that advances in technology are enabling—but after that, you still need to think laterally and 'artistically' to work out what content to feature in order to win over people's hearts and minds.

Q. What's the best piece of advice you can give to aspiring creatives?
A. "Be fast, be enthusiastic".

I'm not being flippant. Of course creatives need most of all to be awesomely original idea-generators and craftsmen—but nowadays the prevailing industry conditions are speed and change. So the value of anyone who is not just talented, but also pace-y and irrepressible, is enormous.

My second piece of advice would be "Be media-literate". Great OLA leverages the media environment - technology and distribution are becoming more central to the idea, it's not just about the images/animation in the little box. So great OLA requires creatives to understand more about the media/environment.

Q. If you were totally free to have anything happen in interactive advertising, what would it be?
A. The eradication of 90% of online advertising inventory.
OK, not practical I realize...but from a brand-building perspective, the clutter, jumble and often cheesy content of today's online advertising inventory undermines most online content environments as places where I feel I can truly engage my brand's target and impress them with my brand's excellence.

Q. Are you thinking that tablets and mobile mark a radical moment of change, or are they an extension of creative stuff you've already been doing?
A. I don't think there's any doubt that the growth of mobile devices marks a sea-change in the channels and platforms available to marketers: the combination of geo-location functionalities, escalating device capacity, and consumers' tendency to have their phone with them at all times...all these combine to enable brands to deliver radical new transactions, utilities and offers. I'm not yet convinced of the power of mobile as a primary brand-building channel though: for all the reasons that have been discussed by others (small screens, less immersive usage, consumer sensitivity about commercial interruption on a device they regard as very private/intimate etc)

Tablets are a different matter: I think they might offer one of the ultimate brand-building interactive advertising environments, I'm very excited by their potential. Partly I think this is down to their larger screens, delightfully simple user-interface and their natural fit with relaxed, immersive content consumption occasions (I chill out and browse on the sofa with my iPad—not with my laptop or phone). Equally importantly though, the typical in-app advertising experience on a tablet is a marked improvement as a brand-building environment: uncluttered, with commercial messages prominently displayed but not interruptive—and clearly delineated from editorial, and no fear about falling into a terrible online rabbit hole if I chose to 'click' to interact.

Q. What about location-based campaigns? Will they change how you do what do, and in which ways?
A. As I say, this is obviously a vitally important component for future direct-response driving communication campaigns but I believe not so central for brand-building work. Having said that, of course there will be some awesome creative exploitations of location-based capabilities I'm sure (for impact, originality and engagement)—and in addition, brands are obviously creating some powerful partnerships with location-based platforms like Foursquare.

Q. Why is being a MIXX Awards judge important to you? What do you expect to see or experience?
A. The motivation to get involved with any advertising award scheme is always the same: you're hoping both to experience and to support the most original and progressive work, to learn from those who are breaking new boundaries in the creative deployment of advertising spaces. MIXX is no exception and an especially important scheme because there are still not nearly enough famous, envied and emulated examples of creative excellence in the online advertising space. In addition—and very selfishly—the prospect of learning from a distinguished panel of other judges is very compelling: hopefully they'll not notice my own limitations, while I get to look smarter by virtue of association with them.

Alberto Ferrer
Interview with Alberto Ferrer
Managing Partner
The Vidal Partnership



 
Q. What elements compose the best interactive campaigns? What sets excellent campaigns apart?
A. I look for things that make a good campaign (digital or not) and then add the digital nuance to it. For example, I would look for a clear objective, a big idea rooted in relevant insight into the target, and a bold, surprising, and engaging execution with high production values that does the idea justice, and kickass results. I would then look for how the idea and its execution take advantage of, are embedded in, and come to life through, digital channels and platforms. Some great campaigns are great ideas that are artfully expressed through digital means. Others are uniquely digital and could not exist if not for the digital technologies that power them. Either one of those can make an excellent digital campaign.

Q. What do you think is the most pressing concern or challenge facing the industry right now? What's keeping you up at night?
A. I think there are several issues of concern. There are consumer privacy worries driven by several high-profile breaches which then can prompt legislators to propose potentially over-reaching legislation. There are decreasing interaction rates within display advertising prompting clients and agencies to question at least the role of traditional display advertising and at most its value. There is ever-growing interest and activity in social media marketing yet there is no consensus of its power to build business or trustworthy metrics thereof. However, in my opinion, the bigger challenge is a dearth of talent that gets digital, thinks digital, and is expert at digital.

Q. Why is being a MIXX Awards judge important to you? What do you expect to see or experience?
A. Being a MIXX Awards judge puts me right in front of the best in digital marketing work. It keeps me in touch with the work that is pushing the envelope. It makes me better at what I do. It puts me at the table with the best minds in the digital marketing industry, from whom I can learn a lot. I expect to see and experience great work, industry luminaries, and passionate discussion.

Nick Law
Interview with Nick Law
Executive Vice President, Chief Creative Officer
R/GA



 
Q. What elements compose the best interactive campaigns? What sets excellent campaigns apart?
A. The most important element of any interactive campaign is a reason to interact. Asking people to pay attention to a message is one thing, expecting them to actually do something with the media is another thing altogether.

Naturally it follows that the best campaigns make people care enough to interact. If they don’t care about how entertaining, informative, or useful it is, not only will they ignore it, they will consider it an irritant.

Q. How much of your job is science and how much of it is art, and how has that changed throughout your career?
A. Sometimes it’s hard to separate the art from the science. We are in a transitional period when a lot of creative energy is being spent on media innovation. At times the traditional advertising world mistakes mastery over media technology as science when it is in fact the unmistakably artful discipline of systematic design. This coupling of art and science into a symbiotic relationship has been has the biggest change I’ve seen in my career.

Q. What's the best piece of advice you can give to aspiring creatives?
A. Commit time and effort to your craft but keep your eyes open and be brave enough to change.

Q. If you were totally free to have anything happen in interactive advertising, what would it be?
A. Have it shout less and help more.

Q. Are you thinking that tablets and mobile mark a radical moment of change, or are they an extension of creative stuff you've already been doing?
A. The claim that a change in media technology just needs more of the same stuff, just repurposed for new screens, is lazy wish-thinking. Tablets and mobile add a whole new set of habits to people’s media consumption. For the intimate, immediate, and flexible mobile screens, countless enabling media is crowding out the noise of advertising. Marketers need to be more than storytellers; they need to be software developers, product managers, data visualizers, retailers, game designers, and a myriad of other things.

Q. What about location-based campaigns? Will they change how you do what do, and in which ways?
A. We exist in time and space. Up until recently advertising was delivered through media sensitive to time but insensitive to space. Not only is media now sensitive to both time and space, it is networked; and so there are theoretically infinite contexts and connections that can affect each media moment. So the short answer is: yes, everything will change, all the time, everywhere, with a dizzying velocity.

Q. Why is being a MIXX Awards judge important to you? What do you expect to see or experience?
A. Interactive advertising is still in its infancy, so being a judge for the MIXX awards is a great opportunity to witness and influence how the industry evolves. I expect to see work that struggles to break from the legacy language of advertising, next to brave attempts to find a new language for an audience with the new expectations that networked media has delivered.

Benjamin Palmer
Interview with Benjamin Palmer
Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer
The Barbarian Group



 
Q. What elements compose the best interactive campaigns? What sets excellent campaigns apart?
A. Interestingness. We are competing against all forms of content and experiences for people's attention, so primarily we have to make sure what we are doing is actually of interest to anyone.

Q. How much of your job is science and how much of it is art, and how has that changed throughout your career?
A. I would say it's become increasingly artful through the years—not to say that it is particularly easier to build the work these days, but a lot of the components that make up good interactive work have been somewhat figured out already, so it's often about combining technology in new ways. 

Q. What's the best piece of advice you can give to aspiring creatives?
A. Try it for real. It's fine to see some spec work in a portfolio, but it's great to see a real web project that is a calling card—it doesn't have to be for a brand, an idea for an idea's sake that achieves some notoriety online will open a lot of doors. I've hired a lot of people over the years because I've run across a non-advertising web project of theirs and reached out.

Q. If you were totally free to have anything happen in interactive advertising, what would it be?
A. I'm pretty sure it's happening right now!  Nerds are winning...

Q. Are you thinking that tablets and mobile mark a radical moment of change, or are they an extension of creative stuff you've already been doing?
A. Tablets are pretty cool, I'm interested in the ecommerce applications more than anything. Content plus shopping. 

Q. What about location-based campaigns? Will they change how you do what do, and in which ways?
A. I think that experiential, mobile and brand marketing will converge. If you have a full-on computer in your pocket at all times, which for most people will become their primary computing device, mobile becomes a fairly irrelevant concept as you are always mobile—but you are also always somewhere.  So location + internet will be extremely important

Q. Why is being a MIXX Awards judge important to you? What do you expect to see or experience?
A. The MIXX judges are a really great group of people, and the work selection is deep. The quality of digital work submitted is also very high, and it crosses categories that other awards shows don't really touch.  I look forward to it!

 

Steve Wax
Interview with Steve Wax
Partner
Campfire, Ladies and Gentlemen, and ThirtySix LLC



 
Q. What elements compose the best interactive campaigns? What sets excellent campaigns apart?
A. I think we need to look at the level of participation in a project. True participation. How much time did people spend with the campaign? How deeply did they explore? Was the success driven by sharing—and was that sharing more than just passing along a video? I'd also reward work that morphed as the audience made new demands.

Q. How much of your job is science and how much of it is art, and how has that changed throughout your career?
A. My job has always been to manage talent, to tell the story of that talent. Over the last ten year the talent became a different kind of storytelling; instead of directing films, my partners created interactive experiences.

Q. What's the best piece of advice you can give to aspiring creatives?
A. Do the work, use the tools, understand what's going on under the digital hood. Then forget all that and focus on the audience.

Q. If you were totally free to have anything happen in interactive advertising, what would it be?
A. Insist that every brand tell a compelling story. Require TV spots to have live links instead of urls. Get Nielsen to admit they have no idea if anyone's watching when a TV is turned on.

Q. What about location-based campaigns? Will they change how you do what do, and in which ways?
A. One of the most powerful interactive experiences is going back and forth from the real world to the online world. This is the year of tangible, live experiences that link back to online. That's as big as the year of mobile.

Q. Why is being a MIXX Awards judge important to you? What do you expect to see or experience?
A. I love the experience of seeing all the best work, sitting all day with my friends—creatives, clients—and arguing about what is the best and what really matters...