Cannes: Freeman on judging online

Is it worth it?

This is the overriding question in every consumer's mind when exposed to your digital creative work. Is it worth me dropping what I am doing to spend more time with this?

As such, this is the first thing I look for when judging digital creative work. Does it hold my attention, does it draw me in, make me want to know more, to interact? If the answer is "no", then nothing else matters.

Of course, it doesn't always need to be advertising that hooks you. It can be the idea itself. In fact, the best digital ideas tend to be those that don't need heavy advertising. A good indicator is whether people will talk or blog about it. Can the idea be expressed succinctly in such a way that just reading about it draws you in and makes you want to track it down?

Once you have them interested, the real trick is to maintain that for as long as it takes to change perceptions, secure an opportunity to re-contact, make a sale or whatever you are trying to achieve.

It's a hard trick to pull off. The user experience will need to be perfect. The promise of every interaction needs to be rewarded. And even despite your best efforts, the distracting vibration of a mobile phone or the pop-up of Messenger can instantly distract. Was the experience good enough for them to come back?

Some of the best digital ideas rely on consumer participation. As the short story master Saki once said: "In baiting a trap, always leave room for the mouse." How good is the idea at making consumers spontaneously want to take part?

Finally, I look back through every element of the campaign and ask again: Is it worth it?

Is it worth clicking?

Is it worth waiting for?

Is it worth exploring the site further?

Is it worth me coming back?

Is it worth giving my email address to?

Is it worth opting in?

Is it worth tagging?

Is it worth telling a friend about?

Is it worth blogging about?

Is it worth taking part?

If the answer is "yes", to all of these, then you are likely to have a brilliant, big, well-realised idea that generates a visceral reaction in consumers and judging panels alike.


- Please don't judge - we didn't invent the product, we were merely asked to market it. The challenge was to talk to men about something men don't want to talk about: bodygrooming. Shaving below the neck. Or, as our client put it: "Trimming the hedges to make the house look bigger."

The solution was the creation of a spokesman so comfortable discussing such issues, he made it OK for others to talk about them too. Lots of others.

Without any paid media support, the website attracted millions of visitors, inspired YouTube-shaking viral activity, garnered press coverage from nearly every major media outlet - and outstripped the annual sales goals for the shaver within the first six weeks of the year.

The Tribal work won a gold Lion at Cannes (as well as Clios, Pencils, EFFIES and just about everything else you can imagine). It was also named Campaign of the Year by The Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek and others.

But beyond the accolades, the work was significant because it made agency and client realise that a transformational, business-building idea can come from anywhere. That mass appeal is no longer the realm of mass media alone. And that in an era of consumer control, earned media just may be more potent than paid media.

- Matt Freeman runs Tribal DDB Worldwide's global network, one of the largest and most award-winning interactive agencies in the world. Tribal DDB consistently ranks as one of the Top Ten companies in the interactive industry as measured by revenue, media clout and creativity.