A fly on the wall at the Bessies - Bessies love Coupland

Douglas Coupland & Terry O’Reilly at The Bessies.
The Bessies were held in Toronto on Thursday, May 15th. I know, the name of this annual event is a bit ambiguous. “Bessies” is it about cows? Your great aunt? The Bessies is the Canadian ad industry's top award show, put on by the Television Bureau of Canada, to honor the best in Canadian broadcast advertising. In past years, the Bessies has been an all day event, beginning at 11 in the morning and going to the wee hours. Which caused difficulties, as many were drunk by lunch and hung over by 5 p.m. This year, for the first time, it began with cocktails at 5:30 p.m. – much more civilized. It was at Toronto’s Royal York Hotel (lovely), where it was held in its inception, but has not been held there for many, many years since (so long that no one knew it was ever held there).

The Show began at 7 p.m. with guest speaker Douglas Coupland (author/pop-culture icon) being interviewed by Terry O’Reilly. (If you’ve never caught O’Reilly’s Age of Persuasion on CBC radio, I highly recommend it). I have a confession to make: Last year, Crush Toronto did a series of nine clips to promote Coupland’s latest novel, The Gum Thief, and I had a feeling that this campaign (view here: http://www.crushinc.com/gum_thief/) would win some awards. (It won a bronze pencil the week before at the One Show.) But when I heard that Coupland was speaking, I knew that they were definitely picking up some awards...why else would Coupland be there? Simple logic. So with this in mind, I sat myself close to Crush so I could see their reactions when they picked up an award or two.

Crush & Glen Hunt (CD of Dentsu Canada) out for pre-bessies drinks

Coupland and O’Reilly were so entertaining. The majority of the discussion centered on how much he (Coupland) loves reality television. The man who coined the term “Generation X” can’t get enough of American Idol, Australia’s Biggest Loser, Survivor and the UK’s Project Catwalk. I hope someone taped their discussion so the people out drinking in the lobby could see what they missed. Like so many advertising shows, the Bessies is an excuse to drink and schmooze – what’s with our industry and alcohol? I’m a bit of an ad geek (don’t tell), so I’m always one of those people sitting in the first few rows watching the show and sometimes even taking notes.

For the award show itself, The Bessies show all the finalists’ work but then only hand out the gold awards. No acceptance speeches allowed, so things move along quite quickly. But enough about the logistics, let’s get on to the winners.

Douglas Coupland & Terry O'Reilly.

Crush picking up their Best in Show for their clips for Douglas Coupland¹s
The Gum Thief.

For me, the biggest coup of the night was Crush picking up not one, not two but three golds, including Best in Show Campaign. This was the first time in Bessies history that a Best in Show went to a production company not an agency as their was no agency involved in this campaign. The client, Random House Canada, went straight to Crush (motiongraphics, design and animation company as well as a directorial collective) to produce these nine spots (three series of three). The first in the series, Roger Part 1, Bethany Part 1 and Glove Pond Part 1, picked up all three awards. The other two golds they won were for campaign and art direction. I know the Crush team knew that they would win an award, but they were completely surprised to pick up three.

BBDO Toronto was also a big winner picking up Best in Show for 7Up’s “Emoticon Susan”, and golds for Parmalat Canada’s “Stairs”, "Dave" for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, and a gold for the 7Up campaign "Elevator Small Talk Tony" and “Emoticon Susan.” Side note: the actor in "Elevator Small Talk Tony" won a craft award for his performance and he was still partying with the all the ad peeps at Crush’s after party when I left.

John St. won golds for their "Camp Okutta", for Warchild Canada (so good), in both the campaign and single categories. Cossette picked up two golds; one for Habitat for Humanity's "Electricity for Rent” and the other for "New Guy" (AKA Mini Goalie) for McDonald's. The “nice try Nogoaloff” in the latter cracks me up every time, and I’m not even a hockey fan.

At the event: Michelle Lee (Relish), Estelle Weir (OPC), Charlie Simpson
(Steam), Laura Rogers (TBWA Toronto), Cynthia Verona (Radke), Jill Godbold

Other golds went to DDB Canada for their “Christmas Dinner" spot for Blockbuster (love the use of film references in this one); TBWA\Vancouver’s "Buckets" spot for Vancity Savings Credit Union; Workers Safety and Insurance Board's "Top Chef" via DraftFCB; and Ogilvy Toronto for "Onslaught", the follow-up to that little Dove “Evolution” spot.

Since the awards were at a hotel, Crush booked two rooms for an after party. The theme was a pajama party with all the staff in blue silk pajamas and free slippers for everyone. I expect this party went on until the wee hours, in fact there are some sloppy pictures on Facebook to prove it (I saw one album titled “the messies”), but as I had to work early the next day, I was home after consuming a few cocktails and a bowl of strawberries and whipped cream (nice touch on the latter Crush). Okay, I also put two Oreo ice cream sandwiches in my clutch. I admit it. They were so good for breakfast the next day.

Crush after party: James Millward (Secret Location), Jo Hughes (Traffik) ,
Jacqui Wilkinson (Soft Citizen), Ed White (Boards Magazine), Chris Hirsch
(John St.)

Crush after party: Melanie Hurst (AD, TBWA Toronto), Laura Rogers (CW, TBWA

Crush after party: Eva Preger & Link York from Soft Citizen.

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glossy Glossy is publicity and marketing specializing in advertising and creativity. I love roasted marshmallows and the CN Tower and I make amazing pierogi and cannonball at pool parties.