May 16, 2007

Awards Show Season

Okay, so I'm back. Rest time is over.

Today's topic is Award Shows, since we're in the midst of Award Show Season.

Now I'm sort of ambivalent about award shows. When I was a junior Toad, I lived for them. I was a total One Club junkie, dragging myself to every event Mary Warlick dreamed up, seeing every client imprecation to make the logo bigger or add an extra word to a headline as yet another ad lost to the books. I worshiped everything Fallon or Chiat did, pored over the annuals like a Talmudic scholar, and generally looked down upon anyone who didn't have (at least) a finalist certificate to their name.

But that was then.

Now I see the awards shows for what they are: a chance to celebrate the fairly uniform taste of a bunch of well-paid early-30-something males with the sophisticated sensibilities of the urban hipster, e.g. the creative directors who judge the One Show, D&AD, CA and the like.

I mean really, look at what wins.

They're generally good ads, cleverly written, with beautiful art direction. But they all appeal to a very specific demographic. Play off of things that are funny or cool or absurd to that demographic.

Which would all be well and good, only most products are not marketed to that demographic. My mother and her posse, if they were to judge The One Show, would no doubt reward Kaplan Thaler handsomely. Along with Arnell or Laird of some other fashion agency. That's what speaks to them-- the Burger King, for instance, leaves them baffled. The Tadpoles, on the other hand, would give pencils to anything with lots of crashing or major league sports heroes. If it's got Derek Jeter or Kobe Bryant in it, it's f-ing brilliant in their book.

My other beef is that the rise of the internet has made the one real benefit of award shows -- the ability to showcase great work you might not otherwise have seen-- obsolete. I can go on AdCritic, AdFreak and dozens of other sites and see all that.

Which leaves awards shows with the sole contribution of helping up-and-coming agencies enhance their reputations.

I also wonder what steps they can really take to prevent fake entries these days. In the pre-internet era, they'd demand proof that a spot really ran (hence the urban legend of the One Show spots that all ran, just once, on Dec. 31st in Nome, Alaska.) But what constitutes "running" these days? The fact that it's up on You Tube? A live url? Seems like it would be pretty easy to do that yourself.

Anyway, it's good to be back. Looking forward to the conversation.

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