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Cannes Jury Spotlights from VMLY&R: Kyle Gracey


VMLY&R Seattle's Kyle Gracey will be the Entertainment Lions for Gaming juror at this year's Cannes Lions

Cannes Jury Spotlights from VMLY&R: Kyle Gracey

At Cannes Lions, the world’s premier festival celebrating creative excellence, thousands of entries pour in from countries worldwide. Behind the scenes, a carefully selected panel of judges review the work and determine which will ultimately take home a coveted Cannes Lion.

Little Black Book is spotlighting creatives across the VMLY&R network who are joining the ranks of the industry’s most recognized and respected creative professionals to judge top-tier work at this year’s Cannes Lions Festival. 

Kyle Gracey is group creative director at VMLY&R Seattle where he has focused on brands such as Smartwater, Drizly, BODYARMOR, Intel and Mazda USA. This year, Kyle will be representing the agency as Entertainment Lions for Gaming juror.

Prior to relocating to Seattle, Kyle spent four years at VMLY&R Kansas City and primarily focused on Gatorade and DICK’S Sporting Goods. Some of Kyle’s career highlights include creating the first full-motion VR quarterback simulator called “Beat the Blitz” for Gatorade. Additionally, changing the way brands approached GIFs and garnering more views than the Super Bowl itself through the GIForade campaign. 

Outside of work, Kyle played a significate role in co-founding an education software startup, dedicated to assisting nonprofits and autism therapy organizations track the progress of their students and patients.


Q> How do you spot Cannes-winning work?

Kyle> It starts with the jealousy factor (as in, “I’m jealous I didn’t think of this idea”). But the standard of the work being submitted to Cannes is exceptionally high that the jealousy factor alone isn’t enough. Cannes-winning work has the remarkable ability to grab you by the collar and make you pay attention to it. It leans into the idea of “applied creativity,” and evokes feeling or emotion you might not have expected.


Q> What makes you passionate about the category you are judging?

Kyle> There’s so much tension around advertising entering the gaming space right now. Gamers are some of the most vocal people in the world when they dislike something. As a lifelong gamer, I think it’s critical that any advertising that makes its way into games does it in a way that adds to the overall experience or makes it better. I don’t want the games I love to be blasted with ads that kill the immersion or take away from the experience.

In the end, I’m so excited about the opportunity to help set the bar for the very first year of Entertainment Lions for Gaming. My hope that it can nudge future advertisers and creatives in positive directions for this space. 

Q> What do you hope to take away from judging at Cannes 2023?

Kyle> The thing that excites me most about this experience is the prospect of getting into the room and debating with the greatest creative minds in the industry. The opportunity to listen to their unique perspectives and learn how they think about the work will be eye-opening. I’m so humbled by the opportunity, and I can’t wait to walk away with all kinds of new insights and perspective. 

Q> What do you think will be the biggest themes at this year’s festival?

Kyle> Virtual reality and the metaverse dominated so many of the headlines in 2022, it felt like every brand was vying to make their mark in this space. However, I’d be crazy not to say AI, its profound impact is bound to become a major theme in the future. 


Q> What does the future of creativity look like?

Kyle> In the ever-evolving landscape of our industry, we have shifted slightly toward an execution-first mindset, where the core creative idea or concept has taken a back seat, and the technology itself has *become* the idea. 

While I do think there is room to do incredibly creative technology-first work, as things like AI become more mainstream, I personally hope we see a swing back toward interesting, innovative creative concepts first and foremost, with incredible technology being the “how they did it” instead of the “what they did.”

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VMLY&R Kansas City, Thu, 25 May 2023 14:00:12 GMT