An Awards Show in the Coliseum of Cockfighting

Dwarves, Magicians and a Lion at the Gran Premio Mercado

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SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AdAge.com) -- It's awards season, and too many hours will be spent crammed into the same old venues as the jaded advertising community goes to the One Show in New York, D&AD in London, and FIAP and El Ojo in Buenos Aires, before meeting up at the Palais des Festival for the Cannes Lions in the south of France.
The venue always changes for the Dominican Republic's annual advertising-awards show. This year it was held at Coliseo Gallistico, an arena where twice-weekly cockfights take place.
The venue always changes for the Dominican Republic's annual advertising-awards show. This year it was held at Coliseo Gallistico, an arena where twice-weekly cockfights take place.

But not in the Dominican Republic, where the big question is always, "Where will Patricia de Moya, the owner and editor in chief of Mercado magazine, hold the country's annual advertising-awards show?" People still talk about the year the show was held at a hangar at Santo Domingo's airport. (A tip: It's really never a good idea to let drunken creatives climb into helicopters.) Last year, more than 400 people converged on a half-finished construction site artfully transformed into an outdoor theater (Ms. de Moya's husband, Diego, owns a construction company).

Coliseo Gallistico
This year she outdid herself. A big sport in the Dominican Republic is cockfighting. For the 10th annual awards show May 8, she took over Santo Domingo's Coliseo Gallistico, an arena where twice-weekly cockfights are held. She then transformed the venue into a circus, complete with a live lion, cotton candy and a scantily-clad female Brazilian flame swallower.

Inside, Carlos the ringmaster hosted the show. He called in the awards presenters, and sparred verbally with a magician who performed tricks between categories. (Ad Age works with Mercado on judging the awards, called the Gran Premio Mercado & Advertising Age.)

During rehearsal, some presenters were a little concerned about climbing into the ring in their spiky 4-inch heels.

"Don't worry," they were told. "Los enanos te ayudan." ("The dwarves will help you.")

And they did. The dwarves also carried in the awards, and brandished "Applause" and "Laugh" signs. A clown ran on and off stage adjusting sound levels on the presenter's microphones.
Among the winning campaigns
Around 600 people turned up, but only about 400 could squeeze into the arena. A couple hundred people watched the show from outside on giant screens set up among the circus attractions. The most popular winners included giant displays of real produce on bus shelters by Y&R Damaris for supermarket client CCN; Supermercado Nacional in the new ambient-media category; and the Best of Show, Pages BBDO's integrated campaign "The One Movement" that launched a beer brand for Cerveceria Nacional Dominicana.

Since cockfights attract an older-male demographic, few of the young Dominican creatives had ever been to the Coliseo. (For cockfight aficionados, coliseogallistico.org features feather-flying fight videos; pictures of the rooster of the year, a surprisingly scrawny-looking bird named Pincel II; and other news).

The show started late and ran a little long, and there were only about a dozen winners, but it was as much fun as many an evening spent at the Palais in Cannes.
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