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In praise of the Advertising Producers Association Collection

In the grand surroundings of One Marylebone in Central London on Thursday night, around 900 members of advertising's glitterati gathered for the annual showing of The APA Collection.

This is one of the most keenly anticipated events of the advertising year which is a tribute to both the APA's high standing in the industry and to Steve Davies - its guiding force.

The relaxed atmosphere owes a lot to the format. Instead of clumping ads together by category and asking a jury to decide between them, a panel determines which of the nominated films deserves a place in the collection... there's no gold, silver or bronze - if you're in then you're in.

The audience is then given the opportunity to watch the collection in its entirety on the big screen... and a very illuminating experience this proves.

Given the non-competitive nature of this event, it's perhaps churlish to speak of winners and losers but it's interesting that the commercials which draw the biggest response aren't necessarily the ones you'd expect.

Discounting the clustered whoops of those seeing their own names (or those of close colleagues), the work that garnered the biggest reaction last night were BETC's 'Supergroup' ad for Cow & Gate and a fire safety film made by Sonny's Steve Russell.

The big screen provided the audience with the opportunity to delight in the detail of the former while the emotional solemnity of the latter awed the room into silence.

By contrast, other films - including some that have attracted the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune conferred by award juries - received a mere smattering of polite applause.

The APA Collection is a wonderful body of work and that's the real point of this event.

As Steve Davies said in his opening remarks, everyone in the advertising business is painfully aware of the challenges of reduced budgets, and the astonishing quality of the work produced by the industry in difficult circumstances is a real cause for celebration.

No one can argue with that.

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