Like the editor of this magazine, I was one of the judges of this year\'s Epica Awards, billed as Europe\'s premier creative awards. One of the most important advertising awards shows, with 5500 entries this year, Paris-based Epica announced its results in December, immediately followed by London-based Eurobest, which gets around 1500 entries.
\"But what good are award shows?\" you may very well ask. Maybe you feel awards are irrelevant to your business success. If so, I\'m here to ask you to reconsider - because I believe awards for creativity are important.
Let\'s take Eurobest first. The top award went to Bouncing Balls for Sony Bravia Television. This was indeed a yardstick by which to measure other campaigns. According to jury member Olivier Altman of Publicis Conseil: \"This film represents a total breakthrough in terms of communication, with use of a new language totally different from the aggressive, intrusive type of advertising.\"
A good crop of category winners this year was obtained from the entries at Epica, most of them (15) from the UK. However, TBWA Paris was the single most successful agency with two winners and 12 finalists.
The print Epica D\'Or was won by Scholz & Friends, Berlin, for its Wrong Working Environment campaign created for www.jobsintown.de. \"Life\'s too short for the wrong job.\"
In film, there was plenty of choice for the top accolade. We had Honda Civic\'s Choir from Wieden + Kennedy, London, a test-drive told in human voice sound effects; Pub, Fish and Mudskipper following on from Guinness\'s NoitulovE (evolution backwards), last year\'s Epica D\'Or (AMV BBDO, London); Human Ball (Duval Guillaume for Doctors Without Borders), perhaps the most graphic demonstration of Aids devastation in Africa; and Paint, the successor to Sony Bravia\'s Bouncing Balls, from Fallon, London.
We also had the Honda corporate image ad Impossible Dream from Wieden + Kennedy, where our hero rides, drives and pilots all there is in the Honda portfolio, as well as Indesit Aqualtis\'s Underwater World, from Leo Burnett, Milan, very smooth and featuring swimmingly beautiful socks in a washer. But the jury, composed of 31 senior journalists, gave the Epica D\'Or to Happiness Factory from Wieden + Kennedy, Amsterdam, for Coca-Cola. The first global campaign for Coke in over ten years, it illustrates the new pitch: \"The Coke side of life.\" A young guy pops in his coin but can\'t possibly imagine all the weird stuff happening inside the vending machine. It\'s good, but perhaps not a great commercial - and it\'s certainly reminiscent of a Perrier ad from a few years back which showed acrobats, troupers and strongmen doing all kinds of weird antics on your tastebuds.
I wasn\'t asked to chose the Epica D\'Or, but it\'s not sour grapes that makes me disagree with the jury. Honda\'s Choir should have won the top accolade. It simply is the finest piece of advertising work I\'ve ever seen, and I\'ve skulked around marketing and advertising since the 19th century. Here we see one of the distortions of which an international jury is capable. They didn\'t want to choose something that had already won in Cannes in 2006.
In the same way, Honda\'s Impossible Dream could not win, in spite of it being the sort of commercial any dreamy creative director in his dream job would dream of making. And Underwater World? Well, perhaps it was too slow and slimy. And the brilliant Human Ball couldn\'t win because public service ads can\'t take the top prize (it\'s in the rules).
So that only leaves us with Paint, Jonathan Glazer\'s extravaganza (250 people, exorbitant quantities of paint, ten days\' shooting). But as Shania says, that don\'t impress me much. In fact, it\'s a remake of Bouncing Balls with a twist (the clown). However, it\'s much more clever and with an actual story. It was partially done in CGI, but for my money it could have been entirely produced that way. However, the buzz surrounding the commercial has added much to its mystique: \"Colour like no other.\"
Now to the ceremonies. While Eurobest is billed as the \'only truly European advertising festival\' - a nudge and a wink at Epica which accepts entries from as far afield as Israel - it no longer holds an awards ceremony, opting instead for a \"live transmission\" of the festival, surely a cop-out to avoid the horrendous costs of an actual event.
Epica is more complete in its approach, sending out a DVD and a book, persuading an advertising magazine to organise its awards ceremony in a different European capital every year. This year\'s selection of prizes were handed out in Stockholm on 26 January, courtesy of Rsum, Sweden\'s leading weekly ad magazine.
Awards like these do more than prop up the egos of creatives. They stimulate useful debate, and the winners provide us with a reference, a touchstone with which to evaluate our own and our competitors\' work.
In short, you can learn much from analysing award-winning work. We are talking about creativity that has been examined by experts and chosen as the best.
After all, in advertising the idea is everything.)