Creativity's Awards Year in Review

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With the first Creativity Awards Year in Review report, we've endeavored to provide a definitive, easy to negotiate, one-stop recap of the creative commotion known in the industry as awards season.

It was an interesting year to launch this accounting of creative kudos, one in which a few daring marketers and agencies strove to transcend some of the traditional ad frameworks, award shows continued to struggle with what to do when they did, and the whole industry stretched to do great work of any kind amid (still) oppressive economic conditions.

Comments from show judges at the awards events and in these pages tended to reveal a yearning to see more breakthrough work and many judges observe here that if there is one way awards shows need to evolve it's in the way they recognize new forms of commercial messages. Our vote: that the near future will see existing award shows evolve past media categories, simply awarding the best advertising ideas. Among the winners of such an award would doubtless be this year's awards circuit punisher Crispin Porter + Bogusky, which has demonstrated a stubborn propensity to color both inside and outside of the media lines. Nearly everything CP+B touched this year turned to some sort of faux-precious metallic substance, culminating in the Cannes Grand Prix win for the agency's Ikea "Lamp" spot. If that surprised some, it was the good kind of surprise, or should have been. It's a good surprise when the highest honor at Cannes doesn't go to what is just the most beautiful or funny film, it goes to the best advertising idea (made into a beautiful film under the ever so wise and steady direction of Spike Jonze, who in a hundred ways, made the idea and the film impossible to ignore). The spot nailed the trifecta of advertising goodness - a standout clutter-defying hook, anchored with a watertight brand idea, executed by a masterful director. But CP+B's golden eggs weren't all found in a brightly colored plastic basket with a silly Swedish name. A glance at the Winners List (see Pg.28) and through the listings of winners of each show reveals a banner year for the shop, with an accumulation of hardware remarkable for its volume, quality and variety. CP+B captured Grand Prize or Best of Show honors at Cannes, The One Show, The Clios, and print show The Kellys for not one but two clients; the agency also won Best of Show at The Effies for a third client, Truth, and won Best Body of Work honors from the Four A's. To seal the deal, CP+B added a Media Lion at Cannes for Molson. All of which stems from the agency's approach, says Alex Bogusky, which hinges on "any legal means available to help our clients get seen and get their message out." The awards orgy is simply a byproduct of the goal to do interesting work, says Bogusky, who is, characteristically, cheekily candid about the fuss. "We had a lot of fun making advertising this last year," he says. "But with the shows it comes down to one thing. Luck. Luck. Luck... We were lucky enough to have a bunch of work go through the judging process and make it out unscathed. Apparently, no platters full of cookies entered the room as the judges were looking at our stuff. That's about how random it is."

A note on methodology.

Our awards list is US-centric and not exhaustive. We attempted to list as many of each show's winners as possible, but space limitations precluded an inventory of every award given at every show.

We focused on the main TV and pan-media shows including: The International Advertising Festival (Cannes Lions); The One Show; British D&AD; The Advertising Club's International Andys; The Art Directors Club (US) Awards; the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP) Show; The Clios; and the American Advertising Federation's Addys. The top winners at print shows the Magazine Publishers of America's Kellys and the newspaper awards, the Athenas, are listed separately.

We took two approaches to generating the lists of top agencies and production companies - the Raw and the Cooked. First, we assigned one point for each Gold, Silver, Bronze or Grand Prize/Best in Show citation garnered by a company to arrive at a raw, unadulterated, this-is-how-many-awards-we-won-period listing. The wisdom in doing so is as follows: it seems people like to see how many things they and others won. It's also the most transparent way to take stock of the results of the past year's awards bonanza.

Having said that. There is wisdom in using some sort of weighting system. Hence, we present The Cooked, based on the premise that it's likely more difficult/more of an achievement to win a Grand Prize/Best of Show plaudit than it is to win a Bronze medal, and the dangerous premise that certain awards are more coveted than others. But we did keep it simple and as equitable as possible. Cannes, was assigned a small point premium, in recognition of the fact that this show is considered by most to be the pinnacle of ad achievement (argue amongst yourselves). And while there are certainly some awards more coveted by creatives (The One Show, D&AD) than others, most of the other shows were given the same point value, broken down according to award ranking - Grand Prize, Gold, Silver, Bronze, or whatever color scheme employed by award show organizers.

Top film and print/outdoor campaigns are listed on Pg.31, based on the weighted system described above.

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