An Awards Show for Creative Rather Than Categorical Thinking

No Entry Fees, No Limits -- Just the Best Ideas of 2006

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Another awards show.

For all our lofty ideals and sui generic delusions, at the end of the day, we were essentially creating another industry award. My conscience is clear, though. There are, as you may be aware, many creative-award shows, some of them quite worthwhile.
A billboard from Dove's Grand Prize-winning 'Evolution' campaign, created by Ogilvy, Toronto.
A billboard from Dove's Grand Prize-winning 'Evolution' campaign, created by Ogilvy, Toronto.
Awards are currency in the creativity world. They serve many purposes -- talent-recruitment and new-business tool, morale booster, ego balm, carrot, stick, yardstick, instant resume, decorating scheme. The newly minted Creativity Awards were meant to do one thing, a thing we thought wasn't being done yet -- to recognize the best brand ideas without forcing them into increasingly constrictive media categories.

Here's how it worked.

Creativity asked more than 150 creative directors and designers from around the world to nominate what they thought were the best ideas of 2006. There were no categories -- creatives nominated work and ideas from every possible medium/platform/sector: TV, viral, print and outdoor ads, interactive and integrated campaigns, products, package design, guerrilla efforts, catalogs, buildings, street art, branded (and unbranded) content and more. There were no entry fees. AdCritic subscribers, along with the chosen 150, were invited to submit nominations, several of which were added to the pool. The best ideas were put in front of a panel of 16 judges -- some of the world's top creatives. They reviewed the work online, rated it and passed along their comments. Again, there were no categories to fill -- work was rated based purely on its creative excellence -- and there were no gold, silver or bronze awards. The items that scored highest won Creativity Awards; the top-scoring item was the Grand Prize winner.

In the end, the Grand Prize winner was what could be called a viral/pop-culture phenomenon: Dove's "Evolution" from Ogilvy, Toronto. Among the 16 other award winners, there was one other viral/media storm (Ecko's "Still Free" from Droga5) and a spot/viral/blog/publicity campaign, Sony Bravia's "Paint" from Fallon London. There were four TV campaigns: Coke's "The Coke Side of Life," Skittles' "Experience the Rainbow" and Combos' "Man Mom" from TBWA/Chiat/Day, New York; and VW Jetta's "Safe Happens" from Crispin Porter & Bogusky. There were products: the amazing, game-changing (literally) Wii; the wee Apple iPod Shuffle; and product/social movement/corporate goodwill campaign/government-policy changer One Laptop Per Child (the so-called $100 Laptop) from MIT Media Labs. There were the Burger King "King" Xbox video games from Crispin. There was a TV show: Axe's "The Gamekillers" from Bartle Bogle Hegarty, New York. There was a brilliant, indefinable combination of product, interactive experience and community builder in Nike Plus, a Nike, Apple and R/GA joint. And there were some TV spots: Honda's "Choir" from Wieden & Kennedy, London; Bangkok Insurance's "Twister" from Creative Juice/GI; Toyota's "Humanity" from Hakuhodo, Japan; and Ariston's "Underwater World" from Leo Burnett, Milan. Though some neat outdoor and guerrilla campaigns got merit nods, interestingly, there were no print citations.

So, yes, another awards show, in fact. But, in spirit, something else. Aside from the great ideas that were deemed winners, I was thrilled with the variety of stuff that people working in advertising considered relevant for brand-related award-show entries -- One Laptop Per Child, for example. One creative director nominated the animated web films of Brad Neely, discussed in this space before. "If we don't think this is what we're competing against," he noted, "we're crazy."

View winners at thecreativityawards.com.

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Teressa Iezzi is the editor of Creativity magazine and AdCritic.com. E-mail your big ideas to her at tiezzi@crain.com.