Whenever my esteemed colleagues sat in various award juries - from Clio to Cannes - I always asked them what it was like. They often replied that it was boring, tedious, or just a lot of long hard work. Now that I've done my share of jury duty I know, it is - or rather it can be, but it's also a lot of fun. If you want to know what judging an ad award is like, do read on. I know one thing, (brand name left blank) can kiss all of our asses, as the jury moved them from one category to another, and had we not done that, they would have gone home from the awards empty handed. Can't reveal who they are yet though....
Friday morning the first part of the award jury of Guldkorn 2006 assemble in the hotel around fresh bread and hot coffee for some power-networking, chain-smoking and gossip. We're soon divvied up into the various juries and shuffled into our rooms where we will look at all the best work that Denmark has to offer 2006.
I was in the Cyber award jury. This is the bastard child of all ad awards, as what happens online moves faster than you can say "online". There's sites, online campaigns, virals, short films, emails, games, games and some more games. We soon slam into the usual wall, how do you compare flashy sites like annadavid.dk to single gimmick postcard widget sent via email?
The answer is, you don't. You can't compare games to emails, banners to fleshed out websites, and so we didn't. We followed the rules set out, is the insight good? Is the idea good? Is the execution good? What suits a sk8ter-kid is not the same as what speaks to little old ladies from Hastings.
We spent most of the morning discussing the difference between "campaign" and "ad" - online there are so many variations, email-blurbs, entire websites, complicated games. The online ad-world moves faster than anything, and award shows have a hard time catching up creating categories for the plethora of different types of ads online.
Our jury foreman, Balder Olrik from goviral, kept us all in check.
One of the rules was to look at the submissions in silence - no laughing, no pointing or loud complaints about it being crap during the first round. Sign-language verboten. This is so that we don't sway others in the jury on what deserved a second look. Once the first round had whittled the short list down to an even shorter list we were allowed to discuss the merits of items on the list.
We looked at silly games, like the hunt for bacon at Tulipanbroderskapet, and wondered was this the right way to sell liverpaté? We looked at full immersion story sites, like the secret agent style pickup for Rexton cars. What did fashion have to do with it? We looked at banners, like the simple idea and spot on banner for Amnesty, was this good enough to bring home a guldkorn? Is anything submitted this year good enough for any metal? We do have the option of not awarding anything.
So many sites were called, but few made the cut. With web one can show numbers and prove how "successful" a campaign is, but the guldkorn is all about the idea. Is it any good? Will the T-beer campaign website entertain the T-beer crowd? The mobile phone download "spin the bottle" game is spot on and a great idea, but the website as a whole has a few flaws, like the "A and B" image voting isn't quite random enough - I got to vote on the same image in A and B! The short viral film homage to the 1999 "bad day at the office" Bad day part two for Netop had competition in the form of a really long film for Fakta, who's tagline is "it only takes five minutes to shop in Fakta but we'd really like you to stay longer." In the Fakta film, a girl simply reads the latest love story published in a gossip magazine. It takes ages.
In the end, after checking all the sites thrice over and discussing campaigns merits, like the full media immersion game for MBA challenge where game-play takes many days or even weeks and you'll receive faxes, emails, text messages on your phone even, we concluded that there is no way to hold one entry in one hand and compare it directly to another entry. It all boiled down to the the idea, the execution and the insight.
So after discussing things for a record setting long time, we broke out the beer, finished up and left happy. Our biggest dent was made when we moved an entry off the "ads" submission list and into the "campaigns" submission list - without that they'd go home empty handed.
The after judging dinner on Friday night, where we all thought that the quail was just a starter and everyone polished it off in seconds, leaving only a clean bone to use a toothpick. Jury duty makes you hungry!
And thirsty! Later we all pissed off to a nearby bar and got pished! All in a days work!
We might have discussed the merits of ads, but it's all a blur at this pint... er.. point! ;)
In the end, I hope to see many more entries in the cyber awards next year as Denmark clearly can compete - but sadly some agencies seldom try. Send in your work, the jury takes good care at looking it through!