The fat lady sang long and clear last night. And my first ever One Show Award night is all over bar the bitching.
The Ones, as they like to secretly call themselves, congregated under the hallowed portals of The Jazz at the Lincoln Centre on Broadway. And even as I stood awed in the presence of music history, I couldn’t help making a rather peculiar observation.
For an industry that borrows so heavily from the performing arts, it’s quite odd that there’s hardly any African-American influence on the advertising industry in this part of the world.
I mean, American music, cinema, sport and entertainment would never be the same without its dominant African-American stamp. And yet, there’s barely a trace of the race’s admittedly powerful creative genes in an industry where it matters most. Strange.
Coming back to the show, however, the results only added to the mounting evidence that non-traditional and new media will be running away from the pack, at least in the near future.
Advertising practitioners are finding it increasingly easier and perhaps more motivating to invent new stuff rather than hone and sharpen the old. And the rules of the games are simple. You either create a new medium or invent a new product – the BMW Internet films and Earth Hour being perfect examples of both.
And the reason why it works superbly at the shows is a simple lesson in judging psychology. Traditional media, you see, has its age-old, iron-clad rules and regulations, lines that cannot be crossed and a grammar that’s been etched in stone. Judging it, therefore, becomes relatively more objective and frankly, simpler.
Non-traditional and new media, on the other hand, is a loose, amorphous notion that defines its own syntax as it gets created. Judging it, therefore, becomes that much more complex and undefined.
As a result of which, there is a human tendency to err on the side of being liberal rather than punitive. After all, the benefit of doubt in life always leans toward the positive. For traditional media like press and TV, unfortunately the reverse is true.
So while traditional media will continue to be awarded in its own category, an open contest across categories like the Best of Show will invariably see non-traditional or new media coming out on top. And you can’t talk of new media without referring to the buzziest word in award shows today – packaging.
The AV for the entry is the next big thing. If you can create a convincing presentation, you’re home and dry. This is a potent powerful tool that Press, TV and Outdoor unfortunately do not have access too. And with an audio-visual presentation comes the opportunity to show results and effectiveness. And it is here that the line between the creative award and the effectiveness award starts blurring.
Every creative guy worth his salt today knows that you can’t win any of the biggies without showing results, however, brilliant the work across media may be. And the levels of finesse that go into understanding jury psychology, cultural opportunities and topical soft spots are intimidating to say the least. Make no mistake, the world’s finest creative brains are working on the one AV presentation that will get them the big metals.
So, where does that leave us? Well, at the doorstep, it seems, of one of advertising’s oldest truisms.
Genuine-ness is the key. If you can fake that, you got it made.