Steve Rabosky, Film Juror,Chief Creative Officer, Saatchi & Saatchi, Torrance, Calif.

Creating award-winning advertising is nothing new to Steve Rabosky. He has worked on the launch campaign for Apple’s Macintosh and many of Energizer’s bunny spots, and last year his shop picked up a gold lion at Cannes for a Toyota Celica spot, “Dog.”

“Dog,” by Saatchi & Saatchi in Torrance, Calif., where Rabosky is chief creative officer, was striking for its simplicity. There is no dialogue or actors, yet humor comes through. A red Toyota Celica is parked in a leafy suburban neighborhood. Suddenly, a dog approaches at full speed, barking, and runs right into it. “Looks fast” is the minimalist tagline.

“Minimalist” is the word former co-worker Scott Gilbert, now managing partner at Saatchi in New York, uses to describe Rabosky. “He doesn’t initiate, by and large, conversation,” Gilbert says. “But if you ask him a question, he gives a thoughtful answer. People misunderstand his quietness for being unengaged, but he just doesn’t participate in small-talk conversations.”

“I’ve never seen Steve carry a piece of paper, a pencil or a pen,” Gilbert adds. “He has an amazingly total-recall memory. He uses no notes for a speech.”

That’s a useful quality to have sifting through 4,577 film entries at Cannes this year. Rabosky, 49, says the key to judging is to first approach entries as if he were a consumer. “Throw away any of the notions of how you would have done it or what was the strategy, and react to it as pure communication,” he says. After that, “you analyze it a bit more.” An entrant “has to have a strong idea, execution and design,” Rabosky says. “It has to have all the parts.”

As for this year’s front-runner, Honda’s “Cog,” Rabosky credits the spot for breaking through. “Something like Honda in the U.K., it’s a miniscule player, never known as an innovative advertiser,” he notes. “The degree of difficulty gives it some extra points.”

Rabosky’s concise approach to judging translates to his professional style.

“Every meeting you’re in with him, it doesn’t matter how much pressure there is or how many account people are in room, he cuts right to the bottom line: He either likes [the work] or he doesn’t,” says Saatchi creative director Steve Landrum. “He’s very consistent that way, no matter what the stakes are, in any situation. He’s kind of quiet, but when you know you need to do something over, it’s clear.”

Until recently, consistency was key in Rabosky’s career path, too. The basketball and golf buff spent 15 years at Chiat/Day in Los Angeles and its various incarnations, beginning as a copywriter. His most recent title there, which he held until 1997, was managing partner, executive creative director of TBWA\Chiat\Day in Los Angeles. It was there that he worked on the Apple and Energizer campaigns, among others. In 1997 he moved to Ammirati Puris Lintas to become vice chairman, deputy worldwide creative director for that shop. In 1999, he served as chief creative officer of the London APL office, before moving to Saatchi in 2000.

Rabosky is looking forward to working with jury president Dan Wieden, chief creative officer and CEO of Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, Ore. “I would imagine that he’s going to try to make sure the best stuff gets in,” rather than worrying about the number of golds awarded, Rabosky says.

The “best stuff” could include his shop’s work. Saatchi has submitted about six TV spots and a dozen print ads, all for campaigns for Toyota and a Procter & Gamble water filter brand, PUR.

In the end, what sets apart Cannes from other award shows, Rabosky says, is the international flavor: “This is the one moment to get on the world’s stage.”