iris searches for ‘Urgent Genius’

GLOBAL – FEBRUARY 16, 2011 – iris will launch its first ever ‘Urgent Genius’ competition this weekend, which seeks to highlight the need for fast, shareable content in today’s world of advertising.

The ‘Urgent Genius Weekender’ will be open to the creative industry and will see more than 100 teams from all over the world go head to head over the course of 48 hours to create content based on this weekend’s top shared news stories.
The concept of ‘Urgent Genius’ is based on the current trend of ‘newsjacking’, where content is created on the back of news trends to benefit from the momentum. It was created by iris’ social media creative  director Jon Burkhart and regional creative director for Asia Grant Hunter.
Burkhart said: “We  want to create crack units of real-time content makers who supplement ad campaigns with ideas that help brands find their own voice in hot-topic conversations. We think this can best be achieved by creating urgent genius. It could be an infographic, photoshopped pic, interactive game, film, whatever.”
Teams who have already gotten behind the initiative include those from the world’s biggest agencies, brands, fashion houses and production companies: Google, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Wieden & Kennedy, Fallon, Droga5, M&C Saatchi, Goodby Silverstein & Partners, R/GA, BBDO, BBH, Neue Digital, DDB, Made By Many, Meanwhile, Salt Pictures, Albion, Acne Sweden, The Brooklyn Brothers, Lucky Branded Content NYC, Iris Worldwide, 2 Sick Bastards t-shirts, a New Yorker cartoonist, Puma, Firecracker Films, Rubber Republic, Big Balls Films, Miami Ad School and VCU Brandcenter.
Hunter, iris’ creative director for Asia, said: “We’ve had massive interest from around the globe with particularly strong interest from the US. and Europe. But I want to see the APAC region represented in its true light – we have brilliant talent out here who are more than capable of creating the very best Urgent Genius content.”
The competition will begin this Friday, February 18 at 1900 hours (teams’ local time) with a briefing on a topic of global interest. Content will then be reviewed by a panel of judges, with an initial round of culling where only the best bits of content will go through to the next round. Teams will then have seven days to seed their content.

Judges will include some of the creative community’s best-known names such as: Luke Sullivan, Group Creative Director at GSDM; Dave Bedwood, Creative Partner, Lean Mean Fighting Machine; Roo Reynolds, Head of Emerging Platforms, Wieden+Kennedy London; David Brown, regional digital director for Asia Pacific, iris Worldwide; Renny Gleason, Global Director of Interactive Strategies, Wieden + Kennedy Portland and Guy Roberts, Creative Director, Droga5 Auckland.
To win, entrants must generate the most traffic in terms of ‘Likes’, shares and views in the seven days following the competition. The ‘Urgent Genius Power Rule’ (based on ‘The Real-time Power Law’ by David Meerman Scott), will then calculate true influence by taking into account a team’s current seeding network, attempting to level the playing field for an individual entering as a ‘lone ranger’ team versus a team from a global networked agency.


The best work will feature at the world’s biggest interactive festival SXSW in March, where iris will be giving four talks– the most to be selected from any advertising agency. The work will also appear in an Urgent Genius book to come soon.

Teams can enter by visiting or for recent examples of ‘Urgent Genius’ from across the industry, see the Urgent Genius tumblr.

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