Ad award shows blossom

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All the telltale signs of spring have arrived: nonstop TV buys for DTC antihistamines, open-toed sandals on 60-degree days and a spate of advertising awards shows busy enough to make a caterer's mouth water.

The annual rite of self-congratulation will be in full bloom over the next two months, as close to a dozen organizations present or announce winners for various genres of marketing communications, the bulk of them for TV commercials.

The season kicked off last month in New York with the Ad Club of New York's International ANDY awards, which named Anheuser-Busch Corp.'s Budweiser's "Whassup?" campaign from Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide best of show. Next up will be the One Show awards for interactive and traditional media, taking place in New York today and Wednesday.

Later in May, the Magazine Publishers of America will present its Kelly Awards for excellence in magazine advertising in Los Angeles, while the Clio Awards will be presented in Miami Beach, Fla. Also in May, Advertising Age will announce winners of its Best Awards competition.

Three different presentations will take place in Manhattan June 6: the Art Directors Club of New York will present awards for advertising and design; the American Marketing Association will present its Effie Awards winners, and the Radio Advertising Bureau will present the Radio-Mercury Awards.

On June 11 the Association of Commercial Producers holds its annual Art & Technique of the American Television Commercial gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Also in June, the New York Festivals will announce winners of print and radio competitions.

The month wraps up with the top awards shows, the International Advertising Festival in Cannes, which will mount its second forum on online advertising issues along with presentations and symposia geared toward interactive, print and broadcast work.

While top marketers say they discount the value of creative awards when gauging an agency's capabilities, awards often provide shops with much-needed buzz and help create an aura of supremacy. At the same time, top agency creative directors consider awards as the only way to gauge their agency's creative performance against competitors, and awards rankings help establish a kind of artistic pecking order. Finally, awards are important on an individual basis, as they often lead to better creative assignments for writers and art directors at higher pay.

Interviews with festival directors indicate the doom and gloom mentality sweeping the agency business has not yet impacted participation levels in the shows. None report any significant decrease in either the number of entries in 2001 or their levels of pre-registered attendees.

"We're in good shape this year," said Mary Warlick, executive director of the One Club for Art & Copy, which conducts the One Show.

Next year could be a different story for some shows: Many show watchers suggest the downturn in advertising will be seen in the levels of work submitted for competitions in 2002.

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