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The View from the Jury Room: Jordan Doucette

By Brett McKenzie on Mar 21, 2019

"...a little Wild West-y..."


Judging for The One Show 2019 and the ADC 98th Annual Awards is underway, with some of the most respected creatives from around the world descending upon Punta Cana and New York City to decide who will take home coveted Pencils and Cubes this May. 

The Experiential & Immersive discipline is relatively new to the advertising industry, which makes it a world of crazy experimentation, looking for new ways to wrap consumers in the story of a brand. This is all on display in the jury room — for better and for worse — and Jordan Doucette, EVP & ECD at Leo Burnett in Chicago, was more than happy to walk us through it all. SPOLIER ALERT: the idea still reigns supreme.

 

What are your thoughts on judging The One Show so far?

It's been awesome. I think it's a great show. I think what sets it apart is the way that work gets judged. We’ve spent the past few days judging, but we have yet to discuss any of the work. One of the rules of The One Show is to not discuss the entries inside the jury room until the very last rounds

I think this is a great way to judge this for two reasons: one, it keeps things moving, and two, you're not influenced by additional information coming in from other judges, things that you may not know or aren’t evident in the entries themselves. This means you truly evaluate the work based on how it’s presented to you and how you perceive it. For me, it's a good reminder that when creating case studies, you have to really say to yourself, “Is this the right information, told in the right way?”

Even though you’re not discussing the work just yet, do you get a sense of what types of entries are rising to the top?

While it’s difficult to gauge what’s rising to the top, I do see that there’s a definite line between immersive experiences that have strong ideas behind them, and those that don’t.

The fact remains that no matter what you’re doing, you still need an idea. An experience is not an experience if you're not engaging people and delivering on ideas that are firmly rooted in your brand story. Just to use technology, to do an “experiential” thing, you’re interrupting people more than you are engaging them, and that is not a successful experience. Some of the entries seem interesting on the surface, but I end up wondering what the idea is. I'm not sure how it's engaging consumers to interact with that brand and understand what the brand's role is in that experience.

"Just to use technology, to do an “experiential” thing, you’re interrupting people more than you are engaging them, and that is not a successful experience."

You mention the use of technology. This appears to be a section of the industry — and of The One Show — where taking advantage of the latest technologies is paramount.

It is, and it makes things a little Wild West-y out there.It’s still the early days of immersive experiences being a major component of a campaign, and I think it's going to get better, but your first ideas when stepping into immersive experiences always kind of suck. Your first forays into AR or AI or other new technologies probably won’t be the best because you’re still learning and you haven't pulled in all of the right pieces. It’s hard to feel connected to an idea when you’re not incredibly familiar with the new technology you’re hoping will help you pull it off. What’s the scale, what’s viability? These are hard questions to answer when jumping into the deep.

I don't fault anyone for doing that because at least you tried, you got your hands dirty with this new technology. I’ve seen some entries where it’s evident that they were just itching to try out new things but I wasn’t sure what it was actually doing for the brand. That might not earn them a One Show Pencil this year, but in the act of trying, they’re in an incredible position to improve on the idea, on the engagement, on immersing people into a brand story.

While the thought of trying new things sounds like fun, is it a hard sell to clients? The work you’re judging, someone had to pitch that crazy, experimental thing to some brand manager, even the work that you feel is missing elements.

It can be challenging to get clients excited in this realm of our business, I believe you must find ones who are willing to go on the journey. We're trying to sell a thing that no one has ever done before, so it's hard for us to answer the questions that they may have, and rightfully so. You need a client who will take one step with you to identify the answers to the questions along the way. But it's really hard, especially since it’s their brand on the line, it’s their money.

I think everyone is trying to understand how's it going to work or even ifit’s going to work. Being the first to do anything is scary, and I applaud all of the entries I’ve seen who managed to bring their clients along for the ride, even the ones that lack those elements that are necessary to win a Gold Pencil.

As you head back into the jury room, do you have any final pieces of advice for those who might be dipping their toes into immersive experiences?

I don't want to sound too simplistic, but even in this Wild West world, I find it refreshing that it's still about the idea. Without it, your experience is just a thing. It might be an interesting thing, but it doesn't do its job, which is meant to be true immersion into a brand’s story. If you nail this connection, it doesn’t get easier, but it becomes a lot clearer.

 

The One Show 2019 and the ADC 98th Annual Awards will both be awarded during the One Club Creative Week, which takes place May 6–10 2019 in New York City. Tickets are available now.

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