Lebedev Studio Brings Home Cannes Cyber Lion

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Moscow's Artemy Lebedev Studio has become the first Russian company in three years to win an award at the prestigious International Advertising Festival in Cannes, France.

Lebedev's studio won the Bronze Lion for Internet advertising for a series of mini-cartoons (www.design.ru/preview/flashbanners) depicting someone or something being saved by a computer design: A ballistic missile is stopped from destroying a city; a bullet does not pierce a heart; a large fish is thwarted from eating a smaller one; and an elephant is rescued from falling down a precipice.

The last award won by a Russian firm at the Cannes festival, in 1998, was also a Bronze Lion. It was presented to a team from the Euro RCSG agency for its Ost-Alko ads. A prize for the Tavria car ad went to the Soviet Union in the 1980s. In 1996, a Silver Lion was presented to the RAVI-Video International agency.

Despite Lebedev Studio's success, other local entries weren't so lucky. None of the nine Russian works in the Press and Poster category this year were even shortlisted — even though 50 awards for each of the four categories were presented. True, the competition is tough. A total of 19,013 works were presented at the festival, including 1,471 works from 36 countries in the Cyber Lion category.

The banners, which advertise Lebedev's Studio, were created by four designers: Roman Voronezhsky, Oleg Pashchenko, Oksana Matveichuk and Alexei Solovev.

"We never exhibited at Cannes before," said Lebedev, who learned of the award from the Vedomosti newspaper. "It is interesting to test ourselves abroad. Our banners use the Russian language. But the idea is comprehensible to all," he said.

In Russia Lebedev is considered a web design guru. His studio has designed sites for scores of web sites, including the Central Bank. The prize for Internet advertising came as a surprise, however.

"We are amazed that Russia was awarded the Cyber Lion — after all, Internet advertising is much more developed in the U.S.," said Jeff Thomson, creative director with the advertising network FCB-Worldwide and head of the jury of the Moscow advertising festival, due to be held in November.

While in the West, Internet advertising is a serious business, only $3 million was spent on it in Russia last year, and its effectiveness is a subject of hot debate.

"Internet advertising is a young field, so we have big hopes here," said Vladimir Evstafev president of the Russian association for advertising agencies.