Q&A: Tony Granger, ADC Awards Chair

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Tony Granger, ADC Awards Chair
Tony Granger, ADC Awards Chair
Tony Granger, chief creative officer at Saatchi & Saatchi New York is chairing this year's Art Directors Club awards. We met him during a break from the two-day advertising judging process.

As chairman do you have to strike a balance between cracking the whip to get everyone through this load of entries and encouraging jurors to pay the work proper attention?

TG: This first round of judging is basically 'in or out' and you know really quickly if it's in or not. In print, you know really quickly. The first phase is more about getting through it, whittling out the stuff that doesn't make it, and about 90 percent of the work doesn't make it. I'm hoping to get between five and ten percent of the work that makes it into the final round, then we can sit down and debate it. Then it's not so much about getting it done, it's more about talking about each piece, thinking through, analyzing it, because that's when it really counts.

What's the difference between the ADC awards and other shows you've chaired?

TG: The Art Directors Club has been going a very long time; it was one of the first shows. It used to be predominantly an American show and the last couple of years it's becoming more and more international—there's a good, healthy balance between local work and international work, and what I've done this year is I've looked at judges that are doing the best work. Our business is all about being on the edge. It's all about finding where that edge is. And these guys know where that edge is, they've all won major international shows, awards over the last year. All these guys are really current, they all come from really great agencies. These are the guys that are doing that work that sits on the edge. There are a handful of really top shows, and this is one of them.

What sort of ideas do you think will flourish in the Hybrid category? Everybody's questing for that total idea—what sort of work do you think will emerge there?

TG: The hybrid category's a really interesting name, right, because I think within five years' time everything's going to be hybrid. It's going to be interesting to judge it. It's work that is very exploratory, it's work that is breaking new ground, using different media. The kind of 'new media' thing is not really new anymore, and I think a lot of shows are straining to figure out how to adapt as agencies and clients and record companies and networks are all figuring out how to adapt, because the Internet is here, it's back, and this time it's so much more part of everything, it's become the connector, whereas before it was kind of isolated. Now it connects everything together. What's happing right now is there's a land grab, everyone is trying to grab for everything. So specialist digital agencies are saying 'no no, we're not specialist digital agencies, we're ideas companies.' Ad agencies are saying 'no no, ads include digital' and design companies are saying 'yeah, we design, but we also do all that other stuff.' Clients are also looking at their multikazillion agencies that they're looking at and saying 'do we really need all these specialist agencies?' So there's a lot of that going on, there's a lot of reinvention, there's a lot of re-looking at the way business is done and the way that content is created. In my mind, there's always space for the experts, digital experts, film experts, design experts, whether they sit in companies or as individuals within companies, as long as there's collaboration between them it's going to mean success. So in my mind there's no need for a land grab. Like at Saatchi we'll collaborate with external agencies that are specialist agencies or we have internal experts. It's all client-driven. I think the trick is not to think about it that much and just to do it—keep light footed. The hybrid category here is an attempt to find that new space, to try to find and reward new thinking and integrated thinking—not really an integrated campaign, it's kind of different to an integrated campaign, it's new thinking. Hybrid doesn't quite fit into print, television, outdoor because the world doesn't quite work like that, and more and more and more hybrid will become mainstream, because it's an evolution thing. For creatives to survive in the next ten years they all have to become hybrids, otherwise it's like not having a reel ten years after television hit us—creatives need that for their survival.
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