CLOSE-UP: NEWSMAKER/JEFF GOODBY - Cannes film president enjoys transatlantic rivalry. Jeff Goodby thinks the UK could triumph at Cannes, Francesca Newland writes

Jeff Goodby is a true advertising celebrity. Having co-founded the Omnicom-owned Goodby Silverstein & Partners, one of America's most creatively respected agencies, he has the unquestionable credentials to preside over the 21-strong film jury at this year's Cannes International Advertising Festival, writes Francesca Newland.

Many believe this year's festival will differ from its predecessors as the repercussions of the terrorist attacks on America are felt creatively and economically.

We can all remember the headlines last September as advertisers recalled their commercials, which in light of 11 September had suddenly becomeeither embarrassingly superficial or downright insensitive. This had animmediate impact on creative, particularly in the United States.Budweiser's successor to "whassup? (itself a Cannes Grand Prix winner)had its endline changed from "real American heroes to "real men ofgenius".

Goodby confirms: "Being in the US felt like a sombre year. The work wasdampened and distracted and that took its toll for a while."

He also says that the economic downturn has dried up clients' cash poolssomewhat, leaving less room for creative risk-taking and big-budgetblockbusters.

Both factors have impacted on America's advertising community moreacutely than they have on the rest of the world. This has led pundits topredict that UK entries will outperform their American counterparts. Thetwo countries usually lead the awards tally every year but recently,with epics along the lines of "whassup? and Cliff Freeman & Partners'work for Fox Sports, the Americans have outperformed the Brits.

Nevertheless, Lowe's "sofa spot for Reebok, directed by Frank Budgen,is a favourite, while Bartle Bogle Hegarty's "odyssey for Levi'sEngineered Jeans, directed by Jonathan Glazer, is also expected toattract awards. Mother's "face off for Super Noodles, directed byFrederik Bond, is another strong contender.

Goodby was too professional to state which commercials he believes willdo well, but acknowledged the US/UK rivalry: "We certainly do like towhomp on the Brits. I fear things look good for you guys this year, butit ain't over til it's over."

Last year's film jury president - Saatchi & Saatchi's global creativedirector, Bob Isherwood - made the banishing of "scam ads a centraltheme of his presidential agenda. Isherwood formed "the president'slog", a list of those agencies guilty of entering the kind of creativework that had only run once in the middle of the night in a remoteChilean desert.

Isherwood's intentions were unquestionably noble: the competition shouldonly include real ads that worked for real clients. Nevertheless, hislog caused controversy, which peaked earlier this year when Ogilvy &Mather's global creative director, Neil French, said his network wouldboycott the festival unless the log was abandoned. French argued thattracking down the cheats distracted from the real task at hand:identifying and rewarding truly great creative work.

Goodby agrees with French. He says of scam ads: "I hope to talk aboutthem less and less. The festival organisers are more vigilant. It istheir responsibility to put things before the judges that are real.There will be entries of what people think is scam advertising, but Idon't want to spend all of the time investigating it.

"Good advertising is about brilliance and exuberance. If scamadvertising slips by, it's not the end of the world."

His ambition for the festival is that it should inspire future greatwork: "The best thing is to come away energized and happy. There shouldbe three or four things that make you jealous and make you stay up atnight trying to beat it."

Goodby is quieter and more analytical than his partner, RichSilverstein.

Scott Aal, a former Goodby Silverstein creative, describeshim as Yoda to Silverstein's Han Solo. Their combined skills have provedlethally successful, with the agency now billing more than $600million in the US and with plans for a European outpost. One indicatorof both their bargaining power and success is that they report directlyto John Wren, Omnicom's chief executive.

The pair met at O&M. Goodby joined from J. Walter Thompson, where hestarted as an art director. Advertising was a second option for him: asa Harvard graduate he joined a Boston newspaper as a political reporterbut was unable to secure a journalism place in San Francisco and so madethe leap to advertising. The pair left Hal Riney & Partners to foundGoodby Silverstein in San Francisco in 1983.

Goodby jokes that his international jury will be pissed off with eachother before the judging starts because of the World Cup. Nevertheless,problems and polemics seem unlikely. His persuasive manner, combinedwith the esteem with which the international creative community holdshim, makes his presidency of the film jury a coup for the Cannes organisers.

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