Diary from Hawaii

An ANDY judge tells all.

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[EDITOR'S NOTE: BBDO/N.Y. executive creative director Eric Silver is in Hawaii this week judging the International ANDY Awards. Here is his daily diary of the proceedings. For more information about the ANDY Awards, which take place April 28 at Capitale in New York, visit www.andyawards.com.]

Eric Silver
After seeing precious few examples of "groundbreaking" advertising (and much of it coming from Europe), we are left with three familiar questions:
  1. 1. Why won't clients take more risks?
  2. 2. Why can't we convince them to take more risks?
  3. 3. If successful, would our perpetual fear of "TiVo" finally be quashed?

First off, I'd like to say that ANDY Committee is doing an excellent job at being the ANDY Committee. Today we looked at more print. More TV. More interactive. To give you more of an idea about the judging process, I asked for help from some of the other judges because (a) I'm running out of things to say, and (b) they're smarter than me.

JIM NELSON ( Carmichael Lynch): On the afternoon of the first day, after seeing about 100 TV commercials in a row, a thought popped into my head: "Well, this is a week of my life I'm never going to get back." We're about halfway through the process of narrowing down the entries to the few that will win. Today I feel like every writer and art director should get the chance to go through this process. Because when you see the wheat getting separated from the chaff, the cream rising to the top -- or whatever you want to call it -- it really opens your eyes to how much stuff is out there, and how fast and simple and engaging something has to be to stand out. The judging is brutal and subjective and unfair. Only work that's undeniable survives. That's what you have to shoot for.

TRACY WONG (Wongdoody): All told, seven plus hours spent looking at work in two huge hotel conference rooms. How huge? Each could hold an official division four college basketball game -- possibly an NHL-sanctioned ice rink. Both rooms are dim. Both would bring an agoraphobic to his knees. Both are close to freezing. We could be anywhere in the world. Milwaukee? Fresno? Tonawanda? Ah, such is the glamour that is advertising judging. Oh wait... what? We're in Maui?

DANNY SEARLE (Clemenger BBDO, Sydney): Maui is fantastic. But the beer is flat. The soft drinks are super sized and sugary. And the fashion is all a bit flowery. But the business equipment is reliable. And there are some hot cars -- however, they're all foreign.

MARK TUTSSEL ( Leo Burnett USA): The day got off to a fine start. The jury is completing the print section by room. There was some great work from all around the world. A few pieces stood out from the many thousands of entries. The standard was extremely high. But this jury is tough and uncompromising, so it will be interesting to see what makes it through. In the afternoon, we were ushered into the ballroom to judge television. The jury took their places around a horseshoe table. First up was the automotive category. The session got off to an amazing start. The first spot shown was "Hate" for Honda -- a beautifully crafted ad resurrecting the classic jingle. I felt we were watching the eventual Grandy Award winner.

IAN GRAIS (Rethink, Canada): Things creatives should know about the judging this week:

  • The judges were probably totally jet lagged.
  • Some judges don't read the ads so much as "sense" them when scoring.
  • Television can be effectively judged lying on the floor with eyes closed. (A technique perfected by the French.)
  • Some of the scores may have been mixed up with scoring from the plastic surgery conference next door.
  • All print work should be mounted on weighted board to reduce the risk of it blowing into the pool.
  • If you have any disagreements with the results, we agree with you. It was the preliminary judges fault.
  • Looking at so many great ads is really, really scary. That's why we're in an exotic location -- to distract us from the intense feelings of self-doubt.

KIM PAPWORTH ( Wieden + Kennedy/London): I love my fellow judges. But I'm not so in love with the work. However, it is early and I haven't really got to know it yet.

(Kim was not much help here but he worked on "Cog" last year and the Honda "Hate" spot this year, so it seemed appropriate to include him. -- Eric)


8:30-9 a.m.
I learned that the word "Aloha" means "hello," "goodbye" and, in fact, has many different meanings and interpretations. I've elected to interpret it as "Hawaii is really nice and New York is a horrible place to have to go to work every day."

Print Judging
9-10:30 a.m.
We moved to a big pavilion-type building to judge 75 tables of print, with about 20 ads on each table. All of the work is pre-judged so there's no work there that is bad, yet almost all the print we looked at relies on the same "clever" visual solutions. To be candid, after awhile, much of it starts to look alike. I think the work that most stands out are posters that utilize the medium. (For example, the Oslo piercing studio campaign that won the outdoor Grand Prix at Cannes a couple years ago.) This year, I saw a poster for a yoga company. The posters are intentionally bent backwards -- making it look like the people on the posters are stretching backwards.

10:30 a.m.-noon
Three judges per room vote on TV ads. You can vote a commercial in or out. One vote of "in" sends it to the next round. So the gauntlet every commercial runs is that it must get through pre-judging from various creative directors around the country. Then, if it gets through that hurdle, it shows up in Maui where a room of three judges vote on it. If one person likes it, then all the judges get to weigh in. Could one group of three send it to the final round whereas another group might not? Absolutely. In the end, though, you have to believe the best of the best work will find a way to get through.

Mixed Campaigns
noon-1 p.m.
What is the difference between "mixed media" and "integrated media" you ask? "Mixed media" is a campaign that combines different mediums: print, outdoor, radio, and/or TV. "Integrated media" is the same but adds the internet into the equation. A lot of the internet stuff we looked at utilizes a documentary approach or a "fake" documentary approach (like "Beta 7" did last year.) I believe this is because internet advertising is fairly new. 10 years ago television advertising went through this trend as well. There is no question that internet advertising will catch up and become more original with each passing year. (There's a lot of hype around Subservient Chicken and BMW Films, but they still remain the bar to be topped.)

1-2 p.m.
Not much to report here except that halfway through lunch Alex Bogusky tripped over a chair. One of the judges yelled out, "Let's create a new category and give Alex an award." Another judge quickly retorted that wasn't necessary. Thankfully, we all came to our senses and gave Alex the award.

2-3 p.m.
Another 40 tables of print, as well as 25 tables of student work. I haven't judged that many shows, but the student work does seem to get better and better every year.

More Television
3-5 p.m.
A couple of cool spots but it's early. As we get closer to the final round of judging, the good stuff will surface. It always does.

I have agreed to write a daily journal for the ANDY Award folks. By the end of the week, I will do my best to find out who ANDY is and why he has an award named after him. I don't have that much to write about yet because we haven't started judging -- so permit me to ramble. Right off the bat, I have two confessions. The first is that last week, I was flipping through the channels and stumbled on Donny Deutsch's show. I immediately stopped on it. Say what you want about the Deutsch advertising legacy but, as a talk show host, the man has undeniable charisma.

My second confession is I was reluctant to do this journal for fear of coming across as a tad sanctimonious or overly cocky. (Which is the fate of a lot of "guest reviewers" in trade publications.) Deutsch's guest that night was Jon Bon Jovi. Decked out in his casual attire, Mr. Bon Jovi was making lots of statements to the effect of, "When history looks back on me, or the Stones, or Dylan... ." And, I swear, he said it with no trace of irony whatsoever. I'd like to go on record as stating there are much worse albums than the '80s offering of Slippery When Wet, yet I feel fairly confident that Bon Jovi and the Stones will rarely, if ever, be uttered in the same sentence when it comes to chronicling rock history.

I'm looking forward to a great week. Judges have come here to Maui from France, Singapore and Sydney. All searching for that same thing: As yet undiscovered gems that, once discovered, make you want to enjoy them over and over again. Something the equivalent of, say, Beggars Banquet.

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