Virtual is here to stay
Paradoxically, we talk about Metaverse today with the same intensity as we talk of returning to our face-to-face routine. While some people anxiously await the return of in-person events, others are excited about the Metaverse and its idea of interacting in a 100% digital world. This is not unrelated to what is happening with advertising festivals. Many celebrate the reactivation of physical events while more and more festivals adopt the online voting for the juries. While this brings financial benefits to the organizers, it has drawbacks.
Some of the disadvantages are distractions at home where juries are not 100% involved in the works and festival. Online voting does not allow an open discussion about the work, which is essential when it comes to selecting the best ideas. Also, the most exciting part of being a juror is having the possibility to interact with other jurors – share, debate ideas, and extend a network of contacts in the global industry.
So, what’s the best hybrid?
Early this February, I had the privilege of being part of the jury at Connection North Am & Latam, an international marketplace for the creative industry. They bring together creative services, decision makers, artists, agencies and brands, to find the best partners for any creative idea in our industry. Production and post-production, VR/AR Studios, VFX Studios, social media, strategy companies. They all show their talent, in a marketing and production fair. Each company has its stand, there are auditoriums for conferences, and the attendees interact with the participants – while jurors walk around the place, see the work, listen and vote. Sure, you must say ‘it is an event like any other’. The incredible part is that this all happened virtually. Something like a midpoint between reality and the metaverse. This made me ask myself, if online voting will continue, isn’t this an excellent hybrid? Should every advertising festival adopt this approach to solve the disadvantages that virtuality is presented today?
Just like in Connection North Am & Latam, I imagine a Cannes Lions where everyone in-person and virtually can walk through the spaces and halls. Where they can visit each stand to see the work, reels, and credentials of every company. As well as being able to click to chat or open a Zoom window to interact live with the participants. I imagine meeting several friends to discuss the great work we’re seeing together. But also, I imagine meeting new colleagues, just like when we are in France. I imagine a voting process where each jury is not isolated in their own home or office with the normal distractions of every day. We need a truly connected jury, discussing in real time and voting for the best ideas. Although, I believe we won’t be able to replace physical presence, we should at least use technology to create experiences that resemble them. In this way, those who are physically at the festival and those who are online can have relatively similar experiences. Or at least, the voting by the online juries becomes more interesting.
Today we continue to ask ourselves, when are we returning to the agencies? When do face-to-face festivals come back? The truth is that virtual came to stay. If advertising festivals want to create experiences that bring all actors of our industry together, both physically and virtually, they should take Connection North Am & Latam as a reference. They’ve done it very well.