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.

 

 

 

 

 

PMs Question time.

Here in London the PM awards are almost upon us and people are frantically dry-cleaning their shiny suits and their not-too-glam-for-lunchtime-frocks and preparing to cut short, by a day, Dry January.

Now:

This won’t come as that much of a shock but these annual awards have rather a low level of credibility within the creative cognoscenti, but like all creative shows they maintain a distinct brand and that, if nothing else, is important to acknowledge.

Charlize Theron

A guest arriving at the PM Society awards luncheon at the Grosvenor house

A few months back a group of Creative Directors from every county of Pharmaland were all invited to the IPA to discuss, over some wine and good food, how the Best of Health awards could maintain it’s integrity and raison d’etre now that Cannes had loomed in to frame as the benchmark for excellence and international debauchery.

Did the Best of Health still have a role?

This displayed at least an understanding of the fragile credibility that all award shows have.

Almost unanimously the feeling was that it did still have a place, but that the dynamic had to change a little. The end result of much Merlot fueled (by the end of the evening) debating was several good ideas, (some terrible ones too) one of which was to move the date of the event so as not to compete with Cannes head on.

While we were chewing over the general status of the awards spectrum the subject turned to our old friend the PMs.

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The same guest four hours later

As I said, within the creative community they are almost universally regarded with a degree of disdain. (creatives are such tarts)

But there it is.

Creatives generally prefer a system whereby if the standard of work isn’t good enough, no award is given. This has to be coupled with judges that have credibility too, otherwise all is lost. Together this makes an award all the more coveted and it has worked well for D&AD and the other top shows.

Because if you have to vote a winner then potentially you have to pick the best of a bad bunch. But the PMs are alone in standing by the ethos of awarding the best of what was entered that year and having a mix of client and creatives as judges.

And you must award a gold, silver and bronze for each category. Because people pay a lot of money to enter and there’s nothing worse than an awards ceremony with no winners. From an awards show point of view I have some sympathy with that, I must say.

Imagine if you showed up to the Oscars and they just agreed that no one made the mark that year. Rather stuffs the after show parties doesn’t it?

And there you have it. To me, the PM’s focus is almost entirely around the event itself. You could pretty much have a luncheon at the Grosvenor House and have no awards at all and a couple of comics with much the same result, albeit with less of a budget for the organisers and not as much gnashing of teeth from the disgruntelcenti.

The point is not whether the PMs serve creative director egos or reward creativity but whether they have a business value or not.

And undeniably, for most agencies, and especially the ones aiming to get a foothold, they do. They still get you noticed within our overall client base.

Creatively excellent or not.

So, like it or not, most agencies still want to win one. With some notable exceptions.

By now it is no secret that Langland have withdrawn from entering this year.

There are several, understandable, possible reasons.

1. It could be that the PMs have just become too small and that their individual worth to the most awarded Healthcare agency in the world just isn’t worth enough. Cannes is now quite a glittering bauble and by comparison the PMs are like a parochial non league football trophy.

2. It could also be because if you are the most awarded healthcare agency in the world that takes a lot of cash to spend every year entering every show going and sometimes you have to prioritize.

Fair enough.

3. They’re simply letting someone else have a go.

But whatever the reason, the PM awards are poorer for Langland’s absence.

And they’re not alone, Frontera also choose to exclude themselves from the PMs.

Only the awards themselves will prove whether the standard has slipped dramatically with the top teams absent.

So the PMs tread a fine line.

On one hand they need an element of creative credibility, to keep the entries coming. On the other hand, they need to not be so up themselves that smaller less creative agencies and bigger less creative clients think it’s still worth entering work and showing up for the lunch.

But the question remains: No matter how good your work, who wants to win Wimbledon in the year that┬áNovak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal didn’t bother entering?

So, will Langland continue it’s success without the PMs? undoubtedly.

The bigger question might be what is the PMs without Langland, Frontera et al?

Back at the IPA dinner we all agreed on one thing.

The PMs don’t care about newcomers like Cannes, they’ll carry on regardless because what they offer is popular and has a clear role within the business – and like those comb-over comics from the 70’s, doing gags about mother-in-laws, they couldn’t give a flying fuck what the trendy alternative comics are up to in that there London.

And we all know what happened to them.

See you all on Friday. Chin Chin!