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Members of the advertising community would certainly take exception to their characterization as aggressive, rude, self-important or immature, and such a blanket statement would be wholly unfair. Yet many watching the carnival of red-faced rage at Cannes last month following the unpopular judging of the International Advertising Festival must be confused by the peculiar performance.

After the standard week of screenings, the judges elected to award no Grand Prix awards to either press and poster or film entrants, though the judges were split nearly equally among four finalist TV spots.

The unprecedented decision got the worldwide advertising community to roar with infuriated narcissism. How can the judges, after viewing thousands of advertisements, justify the refusal to award a winner?

Such an indignant question is a bit presumptuous to say the least. When the judging committee chooses advertisements for awards, it bestows an honor-not a God-given right. And only sore losers would thumb their noses at the awards' judges, questioning their very credibility after the decision, as many Cannes attendees did. Imagine a classroom of students, each having failed to impress the professor with flawless work, calling their "judge" stupid and demanding recognition for a single peer!

Those creatives hoping for international recognition for their work should remember that they are contestants in the festival: Not only can they expect disappointment-what with thousands of competitors-but they should also behave like adults. The awards guarantee them nothing from the outset-no recognition, no Grand Prix, not even a booby prize.

And it's hard to believe that a controversial or even unpopular choice for the Grand Prix-like last year's stomach-turning winner, a poster depicting a gutted shark for Kadu sportswear by Andromeda, Sydney-would have mollified the bruised egos this year.

In fairness, the festival may want to reconsider its own rules in light of judges' having turned down the only solid Grand Prix candidate, Queen Elizabeth's Foundation for Disabled People's "Eggs" spot by Abbott Mead Vickers/ BBDO, London, on the grounds that it is a public service announcement and not a true commercial. Creative work is creative work, no matter what category; recognizing "Eggs" could have avoided some of the hostility of this year's contest.

But in any event, furious creatives should take a deep breath, smile at the irony of the situation and keep plugging away. Better luck next year.

Todd Pruzan


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