The Miami Muse

With an estimated 700 guests expected to attend the 2005 Clio Festival at The Ritz-Carlton in Miami this week, which includes the 46th Clio Awards galas at the Jackie Gleason Theater of the Performing Arts on Monday and Tuesday nights, Clio executive director Ami Brophy, promises this year’s four-day event “will be the best Clio Festival yet.”

Held at an ocean-front property in South Beach, the 11-year-old festival includes a program of discussions about the work and the creative challenges facing agencies today, in addition to the award shows honoring the international winners. “It has the perfect ingredients to celebrate the work and the industry in a way that is very approachable,” says Brophy. “We want it to be the festival for creative inspiration.”

Creative inspiration at the festival, which kicked off Saturday night, will be plentiful, according to TV jury chair Mark Tutssel, deputy chief creative officer of Leo Burnett Worldwide. He says the 15-member jury, which met in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in April to evaluate the entries, saw a strong mix of animation among the more common live-action commercials. “The use of creative mediums was apparent. Usually, the first port of call is always live action. This year I thought animation played a big part,” says Tutssel, pointing to spots like Honda’s “Grrr” out of Wieden + Kennedy, London, which solely used animation to communicate the product’s message, and the “Russian Family” spot, part of the “Got milk?” campaign, from Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, which combined animation with live action. “There were quite a few examples of fresh ways of combining styles.”

“It was a very eclectic mix of work,” adds Fredrik Bond, chair of the technique jury and a commercials director working out of MJZ in London. “I still think we are a little bit behind after 9/11. Creativity still needs to come up a little bit and be helped. The top creative work is still really up, but maybe there is a little bit less.”

Seven jury panels reviewed a total of approximately 18,500 submissions this year, up from 17,000 last year, with the most notable increase occurring in the Interactive, Innovative Media and Content & Contact contests with more than 800 entries received in those three categories combined this year, according to the festival organization. Last year those categories received about 600 entries combined. “There is a palpable sense that something is happening [in those areas],” notes Brophy. “This festival is intended to celebrate the evolution of the industry. The Clios are focused on innovation and inspiration.”

The Content & Contact competition, introduced last year to honor campaigns that have both outstanding creative content and strategic media contact points, helps address the industry need to bring agency media and creative disciplines closer together, says Ty Montague, C&C jury chair (see sidebar, page 30). The winners will be announced at the Internet, Content & Contact, Print, Design & Innovative Media Awards gala tonight.

Internet jury chair Colleen DeCourcy, global executive creative director of Organic in Toronto, says festival attendees will see an evolution in the interactive work, from design-driven, complex pieces that have dominated award shows in the past to simple executions that invite users to play. “We are living in interesting times. The way people use the Internet is really changing,” says DeCourcy. “It is about quick mobile media programs, casting a net that is wide … and building a world someone comes to spend time with.”

It was the “year everyone scrambled to produce a Subservient Chicken,” adds DeCourcy, referring to Crispin Porter + Bogusky’s Burger King Web site that allowed viewers to direct the action of a person in a chicken suit in what appeared to a live feed from a Web camera. “There was a really funny idea that people would flock to because they got to the heart of what the Internet is about, because they shared with the user and changed the way our clients feel about the Internet.”

This year was the first time the Clio organization created a separate jury to choose the radio advertising winners, which will be honored at the TV & Radio Awards tomorrow night. In previous years, the radio entries were judged by the same jury as TV, which often short-changed radio submissions, says Austin Howe, president and creative director of Radioland, in Portland, Ore., who supervised the 16-member radio jury. “It’s super encouraging to see Clio getting in touch with the reality of judging radio,” he says. “For most people it’s pain. I’ve seen otherwise very talented professional people sitting in the room, dreading the radio portion of it. I’ve always been aware that there could be some gems lost in that judging frenzy.”

Overall, Howe says he was “pleasantly surprised” with the volume of good radio work this year, pointing to campaigns for Virgin Mobile out of Fallon in New York, Mount Sinai Medical Center and National Thoroughbred Racing Association out of Devito/Verdi in New York, and an annual awards-show favorite, Bud Light’s “Real men of genius” campaign out of DDB in Chicago.

Also tomorrow night, the Clio Awards will honor Sony Computer Entertainment America with the Advertiser of the Year award in recognition of PlayStation’s ongoing commitment to creativity in its advertising.

The festival began on Saturday night with the TV Hall of Fame induction ceremony of four commercials. Chuck Porter, chairman of CP+B, introduced the new additions: the FoxSports.com spot, “Feet,” from Cliff Freeman and Partners in New York, which won a gold Clio in 1999, and a Nike skateboarding campaign, which won a gold in 1998 and includes the spots “Golf,” “Running,” and “Tennis,” from Goodby.

Last night, festival attendees celebrated the Lifetime Achievement Award bestowed to John Hegarty, chairman and worldwide creative director of Bartle Bogle Hegarty, as about 15 agency employees, most from the agency’s New York location, joined the famed art director at an honorary dinner. The award recognizes Hegarty’s contributions to more than two decades of advertising, for clients including Levi’s, Audi and Whitbread. Over the course of his storied career, Hegarty has won numerous accolades for his work, including 15 Clios and a 2000 Hall of Fame induction for the 1996 Levi’s 501 spot “Drugstore.”

Yesterday also kicked off the “FutureGold” competition, in which 12 creatives under the age of 30 were given 24 hours to create a campaign about First Amendment rights in the media for the People for the American Way. The winner will be announced at the awards show tonight.

The festival ends with the TV & Radio gala on Tuesday. The Clio Awards is owned by Adweek parent company VNU.

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