The last session of the third day at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival 2010 turned out to be a crowd-puller even though it may not have been the best. The attraction was comedian, actor, writer, film director and producer Ben Stiller. To give him company was director Jeff Goodby of digital agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners. The session, ‘Laugh, Connect and Debate with Jeff Goodby and Ben Stiller’ was moderated by Elisa Steele, Chief Marketing Officer, Yahoo.
Steele started the session by asking Stiller what he felt about advertising on the digital platform. The answer was for sure non-serious. Stiller said, “Digital makes advertising complicated for sure.” However, he was quick to add that “irrespective of the medium, story-telling was story-telling, and any platform is good for that.” According to him, as far as digital was concerned, sites like YouTube were good platform for discovering people, and “new and new talents are emerging” and digital provides them a good platform.
He pointed out that inter-connectivity with the computer “is fun” and provided a platform to connect with people “in terms of entertainment and in terms of social campaigns”.
“We have raised hundred-thousands of dollars to build schools in Haiti through campaigns on the net,” Stiller added.
Coming back to the topic of entertainment, Stiller said that on digital, one could make topical episodes in the perfect format to be with the exact audiences that wanted to see them. “So it’s a good thing for us,” he said.
When Steele asked Goodby what he felt about the instant feedback the digital world allowed to generate, he said, “It’s great to have events and comments on events at the same time.” But does user feedback shape the course of an on-going project? “That the audience is telling you where the movie should go is taking it too far. You have to be judicious about that and not let people or media change that,” he affirmed.
Answering to a question from the audience, Stiller accepted that humorous ads did make a point. “There are high expectations from funny commercials. I love funny commercials, and it’s a big deal these days,” he said.
When Steele said that more and more people were making humorous ads “as virals” for the digital platform, Goodby corrected her by saying, “You can’t make virals. It’s the people who make virals by forwarding them. You can’t say: Come let’s make a ‘hit’ movie.”