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Google Plays in the Sandbox

The search giant aims to elevate the use of technology among creatives

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When Google formed its Creative Council more than two years ago, its creative agency members told the search giant to lay off handing out awards.

“They were concerned whether or not the quality of the digital work was good enough to warrant discussion,” said Cecelia Wogan-Silva, who heads Google’s relationships with creative agencies. Another issue with awards, she added, was that they were considered out of fashion among digital creatives, who insisted that they were more focused on what’s next as opposed to past work.

So to help celebrate the creative community in a unique way, Google, with the help of AKQA, has launched the digital showcase Creative Sandbox.

It comes on the heels of Facebook unveiling its own online-creative showcase, Facebook Studio, last April.

With Creative Sandbox, agencies can upload their work as well as case studies explaining the campaigns. At launch, more than 55 campaigns were featured, including work from agencies including BBDO, Ogilvy, JWT, Grey, Saatchi, TBWA/Chiat/Day, Droga5, Barbarian Group, 72andsunny, R/GA and Razorfish.

To be featured in the Sandbox, campaigns must have been live on or after Sept. 1, 2011.

Google didn’t want entries to look like the typical campaign case studies—i.e., client objectives, the work, campaign results. Rather, the goal was to foster innovative thinking by forcing agencies to dig deeper and answer questions such as “How did technology spark your creativity?”

Google included a section for each entry titled Building Blocks, where agencies are required to list the technologies and platforms they used for a project.

The Sandbox also urges entrants to list coding languages, ad networks and developer tools that underlie a campaign. Agencies are able to add stats, including project impressions and even total lines of code written.

“We intended to show the steps behind creative work to inspire people to take those steps themselves. At its core, the Creative Sandbox is a social experience,” said Michael Farley, associate creative director at AKQA.

During the ideation phase, he added, AKQA “interviewed many peers and colleagues across the industry to find out what inspires them and how they like to be inspired.”

Google’s ultimate aim for the Sandbox is creating a better understanding between creative shops and technology teams.

“We believe so strongly that tech-centered creative is not the same as the creative execution of digital work,” Wogan-Silva said.