Monday, March 21, 2005

My last word on the Addys.

It seems my post on the West Michigan Addys raised the ire of some people. Frankly, I'm excited that people are reading my thoughts.

My aim with my Addy criticism wasn't to personally offend anyone. It was meant to spark debate in an industry — ours — that many in the business world believe is out of touch and resistant to change.

One comment on this blog was disappointed that I didn't have the kindest things to say about the interactive categories and noted that I probably had not really investigated the work. Point taken. I was basing my opinions mainly on what I'd seen at the show. I did visit the work that I could find and must say that my opinion of the work improved. It didn't blow me away, but it was better than its representation during the awards presentation.

I'll end my thoughts on the Addys with an interesting opinion I read some time ago on an industry forum page. It noted that awards shows were once an effective vehicle for work that did not get wide release due to small media budgets, narrow audiences, etc. And for that reason, they helped agencies that were doing good work gain deserved recognition. Today, any agency can post all of its work on its web site. The author's point was that this change has made awards shows less relevant. In some ways, I agree. While it's nice to receive praise and notice from our peers, the sad fact is that our glut of award shows and the sheer volume of award categories makes us appear self-absorbed to most business people. This isn't just my opinion — you only have to read the research about the credibility of ad people right now.

At the end of the day, I just think we all need a little more honesty about ourselves and our work.


Anonymous Designer said...

You were hardly out of line. More importantly, I've witnessed a local company or two gearing up for the ADDY's as early as August and tailoring pieces strictly for ADDY competition. When I say "tailoring" I mean spending 500+ hours on projects labeled as self promotion or pro-bono within categories comprised of limited challengers. Limited, in this situation, meaning one of two things, or both. Challengers with limited time to devote towards an entry (i.e: reducing the time internal staff gives to paying projects, thus reducing work quality on outgoing jobs, to ensure select creative's are free to work on ADDY entries). Limited as in fewer participates within a select category. The web and interactive, for example, are ripe for this. Winning an interactive or web award in the West Michigan market is nearly as easy as entering. The sheer look of a site, despite horrid functionality, has been the key to success -and the new media shops in this area know it. They understand the standards governing good work within the web community is typically unknown to local, West Michigan judges. This is why Regional and National competitions yield a much different crop of winners. Judges in the larger cities may have greater dialogue with new media developers and possess a mild understanding, or recognize, Flash working with PHP or XHTML 1.0 vs CSS specifics. A fancy, 16:9 aspect, heavily saturated stock photo and a pitch of Flash in the navigation isn't going to wow them.

Pick on West Michigan interactive all you want. Perhaps you were onto something that you couldn't quite put your finger on.

8:52 PM  
Blogger Black Lab Five said...

Thanks sharing for your thoughts. Even when I was less disillusioned with award shows, it's always struck me as absurd to expend much effort to garner West Michigan Addys. As I said, I've always felt some responsiblity to enter in order to support our industry locally. But a few years back, I realized how out of whack local thinking had become when I read a quote in the Grand Rapids Press that called this show, "...the Oscars of the ad business." Again, let's just be honest with ourselves. This show has always been more akin to the Upper Midwest Regional Theater Awards — CA and The One Show might be able to claim the mantle of the Oscars or at least the Golden Globes. Doesn't mean it wouldn't be great if they were the best regional awards in the country, but pinning too much on this show only makes local companies look foolish. Damn. I'm sure I just ticked someone off again.

7:12 PM  

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