Commercial Closet Brings Awards in on Time

Levi's Takes Top Honor (and I Get Screwed on the Gift Bag)

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CCA's Mike Wilke (left) and Levi's Robert Cameron
CCA's Mike Wilke (left) and Levi's Robert Cameron Credit: Brian M. Westbrook
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Well, I'm glad to report that the Commercial Closet Association's award show was a gay old time Monday night. (Get it?!) And, once again, Mike Wilke and the gang managed to conduct an award show that finished on schedule. (They cut it really close this year, though.) Listen up, people who run other award shows, I want you to go down to the CCA offices and ask Wilke how he does it. Do whatever it is he tells you to do.

For example, you could remove two-thirds of the categories you make up. We live in an integrated world, after all. Start integrating. Or, if you show an ad once, how about you not show it in its entirety a second time? The CCA did that last night with the Levi's spot -- the ad that took top honors.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The evening was hosted by Sirius OutQ radio host Frank DeCaro, who opened with a series of questions, including: "Who's here because they're straight and they called someone a fag and it's part of diversity training?" He also took a stab or two at Sirius. "It's kind of like having your career in the witness protection program," he said of hosting a show there.

My second-biggest disappointment of the night (I'll get to the biggest one later) is that Wilke and company did away with the "shame on you" category of previous years. That's not to say that Snickers and Nike didn't get a special shout-out at the top of the program (though interestingly, Nike did get nominated in one of the categories). Wilke started off his comments by remarking on the recent Snickers and Nike hullabaloos (he even name-dropped Bob Garfield). Ultimately, he said, that these things now become scandals is encouraging. "A few years ago, these campaigns would have continued without comment," he said. Now they're pulled after a week or so of focused outcry.

You can check out all the winners here, but the crowd favorite seemed to be a BMW effort from GSD&M Idea City that won for outstanding print or outdoor appearing in mainstream media. The copy accompanying the hard-top convertible read in one instance, "When the top's away, the car will play" and in another, "Hard Top. Firm Bottom." See, what that means is ... oh, never mind. If I have to explain, I'll just embarrass us both.

Garden State Equality won for best nonprofit advertising with an effort including spots from Blue Jersey and Kaplan Thaler that pushed for equal marriage rights. After the winners walked off with their trophies, DeCaro just couldn't help himself. "I was out about being gay long before I was out about being from New Jersey." But as the folks from Jersey pointed out, the Garden State is ahead of New York when it comes to equal rights for gays.

And Levi's won for outstanding commercial in the mainstream market with a TV spot from Bartle Bogle Hegarty. The commercial, which ends with two guys smiling at one another before walking off into the city, was originally created for the LGBT market.

Levi's liked the spot so much, it ran it in the mainstream market -- even though it had also created a similar spot with a boy-girl ending. And according to VP-Marketing Robert Cameron, the company received only one letter of complaint.

Oh, and my biggest disappointment of the evening? After hearing all about how awesome Switzerland is and how great a sponsor the country's tourism board was and listening to DeCaro get giddy over Swiss chocolate, I somehow managed to grab the one gift bag in the place without a single chocolate bar in it.