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Andrew's ANDYs: Keller's Down Under Diary, Part 2

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The days go up and down. One minute you think you've got it. The next minute you're a student again. But that's advertising. A place where strategy, subjectivity and a small creative spark make a little door for the completely unexpected to walk in.

In general, the work is very smart. You get the sense that all of us are really hunkering down and solving our clients' business problems, that the problems, not simply the potential for award, is generating said spark. It's good to see brands are sticking with what's worked from last year. Whether it's Skittles or Sony or Guinness for example, there is equity in the things they've created. And apparently the stuff is working or else why do them again.

But you can't be boring and repetitive. Who knew the simple celebration of color or good things coming to those who wait or the notion of candy as existential metaphor could have so many legs? But they do. And then there are brands like JC Penney and Absolut who have evolved. Or just flat-out started over again. Pulling up their flag and replanting it in a more opportune space. For the work and for business.

I think it's a kind of a rebuilding year for interactive. It was a Wild West where technology created the magical spark for an idea. But now we all know a thing or two about how to cut a lady in half. Technology as a crutch is not going to fly. Our ideas are going to have to start walking on their own.

Also, there's a new category this year that tells us something about the industry we work in. It's called "Non-interactive interaction." This is a funny name. Well, its actually very telling that it exists. First of all, it suggests that watching a commercial is not interactive. It also supports the fact that there have been offline campaigns that were very "interactive."

The scarier translation is that we may soon have a category called "interactive non-interaction." There's a good amount of this out there. They are called web films. Sites that just have web films in my opinion are not truly interactive. They are media vehicles. So either this awareness should inspire us about TV or it should prevent us from not sliding backward from the task as given to us in name for the online world. It was an awesome day when a department at an agency got called "creative": the creative department. How simultaneously daunting and arrogant. But it's very effective at telling us what it is we are expected to be.

Now along comes the online world. And it gets the title "interactive." It's a lot to live up to. But just as I expect interactive work to be creative, we better expect our creative work to be interactive. And, may our TV and print ads and web banners all be interactive--if not in their cyber-physicality and activity then at least due to an idea that is so surprising/engaging/relevant/delightful that it reaches in and grabs your heart or brain or balls, and shakes them up a bit before the viewer can turn away.

Finally...karaoke.

Here is the reality: It was rigged. There was already a trophy. It already had my name on it. For this I am ashamed. OK; it didn't really have my name on it. But said trophy features a Virgin Mary-like character holding a baby Jesus-like character. Who has blonde curly hair.

Destiny? Perhaps. But where is the sport? Could it have played out differently? Upon recognition of this, it was all I could do to make sure that those responsible for this did not do so in vain. So I tried harder than I ever have...for them. To prevent their embarrassment...their shame. It for sure had nothing to do with my own ego.

The finalists were myself, Judee and Nobby.

The fact is, Judee won. Her talent, her passion, her rendition of "Like a Virgin" got the girl power on the floor and shook the 19th century pub that housed the competition to its core. Nobby insisted on Billy Joel. I think he will forever question the strategy of doing "New York State of Mind" in Sydney, of all places. But his voice was impeccable. If he'd practiced, it showed, if he didn't practice, then the startup of a new agency has marinated his soul in such a way as to elicit gilded chocolate tones with a caramel center. He also tried to kiss me. That was awkward. Subsequently, I have promised, for my wife's sake, to shave every day.

Other highlights: Tutssel doing "My Way" was a standout. Guy doing "Bohemian Rhapsody" was inspirational but not as good as his version of "Desperado." And virgin karaoketeer Susan Credle succumbed to the sweet temptation at least four times. All in all, an incredible event. And a good way to drop our inhibitions as we move into the final rounds of judging. Onward to the GRANDY.

Read the first installment of Andrew's 2008 Diary.
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