Every year, some of our industry leaders, young and the not-so-old, get down to doing jury duty in India or abroad.
To be appointed a jury member is an obvious recognition of ability, experience and judgement. It means that you have cut your teeth, creating famous work, celebrated by consumer and industry alike. Mind you, it is no easy job to sit in rooms, albeit air-conditioned, staring at a TV or computer screen, or wading through mounted art pulls or listening to radio, ad nauseam. At the very least, it is the mind-numbing equivalent of some extremely inventive, insidious torture. But then, there are always the few brilliant pieces that shine and make it all worthwhile.
For any juror, it is quite something to stay sharp and ruthlessly objective about the work. Needless to say, some do it better than others.
But this much is true - what any jury award tells the industry is that this is the standard, the benchmark. This is the work the industry will give a collective nod to. This is what will inspire the young and old. This work will raise the bar. It will set the tone for the industry.
Towards this end, having served on a number of juries in India as well as abroad, I thought it might be an interesting exercise to put down a list of vows that every juror could consider taking.
So, all you industry leaders may read this and agree. Or violently disagree. But I’m willing to wager that some of you may find some of the scenarios for the vows a bit familiar.
Now, it’s entirely possible that just seven vows may not be entirely sufficient to ensure a jury’s success. But the way I see it, seven vows are better than none at all, right?
So here they are:
1. I promise to remember I’m serving on an awards jury, NOT a Whose Ego Is Bigger Jury. And that I have to keep the judging of work free of every dubious consideration that may creep up. A typical example: “Mera nahin toh tera bhi nahin…” Or, “Damn, I wish I’d done that, okay, let me be really insecure and at the very least NOT award it.”
2. I promise to rise ABOVE thoughts such as “Ah, that’s my friend’s work, let’s give it a gong.” OR, above other thoughts such as “Oh, that work belongs to THAT agency, the one that wins the most number of metals every time, let’s look beyond it.” OR, even above thoughts like “Doesn’t that work belong to that young upstart’s start-up? No way am I making him any more intolerable than he already is!!!”
3. I promise not to be whimsical, like asking to fast-forward through an AV just because I think it’s boring. Or throw tantrums like a child or be stingy. Most importantly, I also promise not to get swayed by aforesaid whims and tantrums, if ever at the receiving end of the same.
4. I promise to be as objective as possible, be fair and stick to the rules laid down by the governing committee. (In other words, I’ll not be the one who waits to time my comments on a particular piece of work till the jury member the said work belongs to, steps out of earshot. Or attempt to change the set rules on an ad hoc basis, just because I’m the chairman of the jury.)
5. I promise to NOT divulge to another jury member that I voted for his work and that someone else on the jury didn’t.
6. I promise to remember to keep my hand down when my agency’s work is being put through a vote.
7. I promise to remember to be focused, fair and absolutely forthright. And to award good work, irrespective of where it comes from. Because that, above all, is what a jury is meant to do.
(Raj Nair is RCD, Mumbai & South, at Contract Advertising.)