I was surprised how mixed the work was. The good work was very good, and then there were campaigns or pieces that all the judges were asking, "Why is this here?" We decided it has to do with the concept of a regional awards show that builds to a national final. It was clear the some of the regional winners were being held to different standards locally and that regions have different ideas of what constitutes great work.
Did the work this year reflect any larger industry zeitgeist? (eg. Did the state of the economy show in the work? Has there been a move toward racier advertising, more copy, less humor, etc.?)
No really obvious themes. Like many of the other shows I have judged recently, the entries showed an indsutry striving with some difficult to be as imaginative as it once was. Many ideas felt familiar or recycled. This did however help the true ideas stand out from the rest. There was little discussion when the judges were faced with a genuinely world-class campaign. We all know it when we see it.
What distinguished the winners this year? What were judges looking for? How clearly were guidelines set out at the outset of judging?
I think the judges were very consistent in their approach. At least we were told we were. I think we were looking for the classic combination of a surprising idea that was relevant to what it was supposed to sell (many were just surprising or shocking for the sake of it with no obvious relevance beyond that. We then wanted to see craft skills applied that are beyond the norm. Great writing and art direction that each in its own way takes the idea to yet another level. Here, I must add, that writing in particular was often the weakness of the campaign. The winners, and best of show in particular, stood out because they were superbly well-written.
What did you learn from judging this show in particular? Anything interesting or difficult about judging this show?
The regional differences I mentioned earlier make judging this show a little more frustrating than judging other shows. It was hard at times to remember that every piece we saw had already been deemed a "winner" by other judges, but ultimately, it is the diversity and variety within our industry that make it fascinating. I'd rather wade through failed experiments than through cookie-cutter answers. I hope I'm invited back.