Inside guide to Cyber
Cannes Lions Director of Awards Simon Cook answers all the questions you've always wanted to ask
What Simon and his team don’t know about the Lions isn’t worth knowing. We decided it was time their knowledge was shared with the world.
When you hear the word 'cyber' these days, it's normally in connection to one of four things: cyber-attacks, cyber-terrorism, Cybermen and the Cyber Lion. The first two are an unpleasant fact of life in the modern world. The last two are both metal and shiny, but only the Cyber Lion is actually a real thing. Sadly no Cybermen have ever picked up a Cyber Lion (we'd love to see that award show), and while the BBC sci-fi hit Doctor Who has featured in several entries over the years in PR, Film, Cyber, Design and Media Lions, it has yet to make any shortlist.
Quite why the Cyber trophy looks the way it does has been lost in the mists of time. We're trying to track down the team behind the development of the award to confirm, but it's thought that the transparent shape behind the Lion figure represents the virtual nature of cyberspace.
Director of Awards Simon Cook has much more useful information at his disposal, so we'll hand over now to the expert...
"Part of my job in Cannes is to check in with all the juries while they’re locked away in rooms around the Palais. “It’s a golden year for Cyber. Cyber has finally arrived” Chloe Gottlieb, the 2016 Cyber Lion president said to me in a hushed Brooklyn tone as the rest of the jury slurped coffee, munched on croissants and considered the fruit of their labours – the hallowed shortlist reel. By this point the jury had been locked in a room for three days, and it’s going to be another four before the judging process is over. “A Cyber renaissance!” another juror chimed in.
"They were excited because, apparently, the really great work had a common characteristic this year. It seamlessly combined concept, technology and craft to the point where it was impossible to separate the idea from its context. I arched an eyebrow. Bingo. In Cyber-land, this is the Holy Grail. Being honest, I’d heard it all before. “Well let’s see what the audience make of it at the show, Chloe,” I quipped. “They’re the best barometer”. I had to leave to check up on the unruly Digital Craft jury next door: it’s all those toys, loads of cool gadgets in a room full of giddy tech-heads does not a productive jury make.
"Later at the Cyber awards show, an audience of thousands listened intently as Cyber Lion Jury President Chloe Gottlieb addressed the Festival: “The work shown tonight doesn’t just signal the current state of Cyber, it will define a path forward for this particular breed of creativity”. There were audible gasps when a Rembrandt painting created by artificial intelligence was unveiled on the Lumiere stage. Rembrandt (though technically Baroque) unwittingly signified a renaissance of a completely different sort."
Let’s kick off with the official definition of the Cyber Lion. What is it?
SC: That’s easy. The Cyber Lions celebrate creativity experienced digitally. Award-winning work should demonstrate ideas indigenous to, or enhanced by, the digital environment; that is work originating from online platforms and innovatively utilising associated technologies to deliver a brand message.
And what does mean in reality?
SC: Cyber is a dynamic melting pot of online and offline work. It celebrates brand stories that are increasingly influenced by growing technological capabilities, new channels and a rapidly evolving creative palette. Cyber is difficult to pin down because of its breadth. It’s inclusive, non-discriminatory, techy, nerdy and delightfully diverse.
We can’t avoid it forever. Why is it called Cyber? It’s not a word you hear much these days.
SC: It is a that name divides people. It harks back to the heady days of the dot.com bubble. We toyed with the idea of rebranding, but it is unique to Cannes. Much like ‘Titanium’, it has taken on its own iconic status at the Festival. Rei Inamoto put it best. He said, “Call it digital and it will die. Continue to call it Cyber and allow the industry to define what that means each year...and that’s exciting. Its abstractness allows us to keep it fresh, unrestrained and move things forward".
Give us a brief history of the Cyber Lion
SC: It was the third Lion to be added to the festival, launched in 1997. In 2014 an elite industry steering committee was assembled for a substantial overhaul which saw the introduction of Social, Branded Technology and categories that celebrate brand experience.
What sort of work can win in Cyber?
SC: It’s mixed bag. Everything from a humble, eye-wateringly beautiful website can sit alongside a state-of-the-art, branded consumer experience with mind-boggling technology at its core.
What’s your big piece of advice for anyone entering Cyber?
SC: One of our jurors summed it up perfectly: “Provide context. Without context we’re left with floating ideas and nothing to attach them to. The context of the work – and your own context - is important. Share it with us”.