Judgement day

For those of you who’ve sat on the PM society jury in the past you’ll recall a big drafty room at the BMA in Russell Square and two days out of the office, walking round a room peering at rounds and rounds of cardboard.

This year, like many awards shows, most of the judging took place online, streamlining the process in to one day of robust opinions with the location transferred down the M4 to the Crown Plaza Hotel at Heathrow.

When I remember the first time I rolled up at the PM Society lunchtime bash at the Grosvenor Hotel a few years back, it was mostly print with a few digital pieces starting to creep in here and there. A documentary was seen as breaking important new ground.

This year I was lucky enough to be the PM head judge, and I must say I think the standard of work has steadily improved year on year and reflects a steady growth of creativity in what we do every day at the coal face.

The PMs has always suffered in a lot of creatives minds for having less prestige than some other shows.

Why?

Because there must be a winner in each category, so it removes the possibility of the Craft judges only awarding (what would have been in most other shows a bronze) a bronze.

Sometimes that’s hard to get your head around.

Fortunately this year the Golds popped out, I can’t recall a single discussion in any category about what was Gold.

These days there are quite a few high production films, both animation and live action, that wouldn’t look out of place in a consumer show, some exquisite digital design and even social media campaigns.

This year’s jurors also numbered several previous Cannes judges, which might have seemed unlikely a few years ago.

Nevertheless, some entrants still do themselves no favours.

Let me give you some tips.

If you are preparing work for any awards jury, I ask you to consider that usually those juries are curated from the industry’s Creative Directors.

That means….

We don’t need to see the shoot, most of us are familiar with a set, editing software and lights. It’s less impressive than you might hope.

Unless of course, the technique is part of the idea.

But don’t include the whole story of how you came up with it and how much effort it took to produce, no timelines please. It might impress clients and new biz prospects, but save the backroom insights for them.

Why? because I don’t care. I’m judging the idea and the craft.

So get to the problem and then the idea as fast as you can.

If you have a digital piece, like say even an idetail, don’t just upload all the pages as a series of jpegs. Trust me, nobody has the time to try and figure out what the UX was. Make it as painless as possible and help us love it as much as you do.

As a rule, people presenting the idea to camera, be it agency CDs or Clients is really boring.

Imagine something really boring, then imagine something more boring than that.

You can say it’s a fantastic new idea that people loved but it won’t help. We’ll be the judge of that thank you very much.

I say this with all the genuine understanding of the difficulty that making case history films involves.

And I know not all entrants are agencies, but all entries are equal when it comes to the jury room.

So anyway, I hope this helps.

My thanks to all the jurors who gathered at the Crown Plaza this year, I hope we did all our entrants, organisers and sponsors proud.

And if you got nominated, congratulations. I’ll see you in January.

Have a fab non denominational seasonal holiday break and a happy New year.

 

 

 

 

 

Be careful what you wish for

You remember those first couple of years when Health and Wellness and Pharma were finally at Cannes?

Anyone who was anyone flew in and there was an air of optimism for the future.

And yet, how some of us lamented the fact that we seemed divorced from the main show, how we felt like second class citizens. Why were we on the preceding weekend and not part of the main week?

‘We want to be part of the main week’ they said.

Not me. I liked it that way.

(Not least because you could get a hotel room near Le Croisette and one that wasn’t something out of a tired nineteen seventies polyester nightmare.)

However, that first year I remember a lot of the talks were in the main Lumiere theatre, it really felt like this was pharma’s time.

The next year we were shunted round the back. What? not in the main theatre? oh right, round the back you say?

But that was okay, we got our own slightly ssmaller space, somewhere to see innovations and specific talks all in one arena.

In fact this was better in some ways, round the back, out of the way.

We even still got our own gala ball on the roof top. Yay!

But still, here we are on the weekend and we don’t feel like part of the adland gang, we moaned.

Last year we got included in the main week, no healthcare gala ball, but we go to go to the opening night party with everyone else.

Cool!

And we still had our own awards night! A lot of the work was celebrated and silver winners took to the stage to get their moment in the limelight they deserved.

The winning work was from healthcare agencies and actual pharma clients.

This year, we’re still round the back, no healthcare gala ball and the awards night consisted of our categories being squeezed in with a couple of other categories nobody gets excited about any more.

Like ‘print’.

No silver winners on stage and the whole thing, two whole categories mind you, is over in 30 mins.

Won a silver? well done, give yourself a round of applause.

Next category please.

Congratulations everyone, we’re part of the main show! We’ve arrived!

 

 

 

 

Forget about awards and the awards will come.

Do you see yourself as a creative person?

Try this test.

Take a brick and list three things you can do with it.

Some people will say 1. Build a house 2. Build a road 3. Build a bridge.

If your top three ideas were 1. Throw through a jeweller’s window, 2. Squash flies 3. Paint white and use as a creative award – you may be destined for a career in the creative industries.

So does something more fundamental separate creatives from people who might class themselves as ‘non-creative’?

My wife and I were watching one of those programmes, of the ‘Escape to’ variety.

Yes, it’s a high-octane life I lead.

This one was about a couple who have bought a château in France and are renovating it beautifully and creatively.

It might even be called ‘Escape to the Château’.

The wife, (his not mine) had bought a new light for one of the bedrooms – off the internet, as you do, and opened up the box upon receiving it with a squeal of delight.

It was a wonderfully decorative flower arrangement style set in brass.

Her husband, a practical man and extremely handy with a jigsaw and a plank of wood, looked on with a look of amused despair, and immediately pointed out that it was a candle holder with no electrical aspect whatsoever.

Not what they needed at all.

My wife ‘tutted’ and remarked ‘that’s such a creative person thing to do’.

(I couldn’t really argue as I had done something similar myself recently with a picture light.)

Because creative people’s brains do work differently to a degree.

But creative or non-creative, we all can tap in to a higher level of creativity if we put our minds to it.

Or rather if we don’t.

A study in the 1970’s at Stanford in California by an academic called Mark Lepper (now a professor of Psychology) took a group of children from the Bing Nursery school located on the Stanford campus, divided them in to three groups and gave all three a set of markers, crayons and paper.

The first group was told there would be a reward for the best picture. An award with their name on it, no less.

The second group was not told anything, but the best picture did receive an ‘unexpected reward’ once they had completed the task.

The third groups were neither promised nor received any award for their work.

The results were astounding. The first group’s work – the one with a clear reward – was considerably worse than the other two.

The findings, at least among these children, clearly showed that reward is not necessarily the best way to increase creativity.

A subsequent experiment divided children in to two groups and again asked them to create a collage – one with no promise of anything and the other with the promise of a prize: An Etcher-sketch!

They then asked judges to come in from the art department and randomly asked them to judge the work.

All of the work from the group with no intrinsic incentive was judged to be significantly poorer.

Weird huh?

So what is your approach to awards and how does this square with those agencies who clearly load the dice with work let’s say…..that is specifically designed to clean up at Cannes etc?

Well, it would at least seem to contradict Lepper’s work at Stanford.

But I suspect the creative motivation for those who produce those winning concepts is less about winning the awards and more about doing something cool.

In fact for anyone who produces great work, it’s never about the awards as a starting point. Not really.

Maybe it just happens that if your approach is to go for cool and interesting first, rather than be fixated on what will win at an awards show, the awards start flowing.

So that brief that’s sitting on your desk? what could you do to give yourself the most fun on a job that you’ve ever had?

What would you like to spend the next three months producing, assuming it works for the brand?

Do that, not that thing you think might delight the judges.

You never know, you might win a brick all of your own.

 

 

*With special thanks to the freakonomics.com podcast for the inspiration for this blog.