I have been attending these advertising award banquets for years. But every time I won something, it was behind the curtain of ad agencies, either as an employee or a freelance art director and designer.
Anyone who knows me, knows it’s a close race between my modesty and my frugality. I have never been one for public displays of self affection when it comes to my work and to actually PAY to have someone judge me? Well, I just never wanted the buyers remorse on that one. Not to mention, the logistics involved for submitting entries — I’ve had house closings that were easier.
(It’s actually kind of funny to see marketing professionals that can juggle the industry equivalent of fire and chain saws on a daily basis but be brought to their knees by a simple entry form and its rules.)
However this year, Tracy convinced me we needed to enter some work. “It will be good exposure!” she says in her usual chipper cheerleader voice. OK. OK. But she handled the closing. Ah, I mean the submission.
Being that our partnership was fairly new, most of our work together had been for the agency with which she was previously employed and I was previously retained. In other words, unsubmittable by us. So we entered a few things and were ecstatic to be notified that 4 of our submissions had “made it.”
The theme for this year’s Addy Awards was “Oscar Night” featuring a film entitled “Attack of the Killer Concepts.” The materials highlighted a great illustration of an alien that reminded me of a talented illustrator I dated in college. (He didn’t look like the creature….he just used to draw stuff like that.) And may I say, that creating the concept for this event is a job I would not want. You may as well stand in front of the firing line and get it over with. Creating great creative for creatives is like chewing on tin foil. But this year’s materials and concept were quite fun. And I actually looked forward to going.
I was already writing my imaginary acceptance speeches, (hey even the humblest of us can dream) when Tracy called me a couple weeks before the Addy awards and told me that she volunteered me for something. They were putting together a film to show intermittently at the banquet and wanted to interview a variety of creative types. So when they called Tracy, she said “Sure, Trish would LOVE to do it!”
“It will be good exposure.” she said in her usual upbeat tone.
Oh good grief, I think. Well, at least it’s in the privacy of a studio, and I’ll just drink heavily at the event so I won’t care how they edit me out of context. It’s not like I have to stand up in front of a crowd.
The next day she calls and says she’s volunteered me for something else. Now I’m a presenter at the event. Did I mention I’m not good in front of crowds?
“It will be good exposure.” She said hesitantly.
I knew she was right, like when you’re mom tells you at the time of your first real heartbreak that you’ll eventually forget about him. That’s ok. The next time she called I got her back. I didn’t pick up the phone until the second ring. That’ll teach her!
So, of course, since I was now a presenter, I could thank Tracy for a lovely excuse to go out and buy an expensive dress, with matching expensive shoes and jewelry (Did I mention I’m frugal?) that, just to wear again, I’ll have to go to another expensive $80+ plate event.
The day before the event I wasn’t so much worried about getting up in front of the crowd, or what our 4 Addy-worthy submissions might garner us. No. I had bigger worries…..walking in 3 inch heels. Acceptance speeches long forgotten, I hobbled around my house in jeans, t-shirt and a stunning pair of rhinestone covered strappy sandals. I felt like a warped version of June Cleaver and determined that I would be fine, as long as everything was covered in sticky carpet.
On the big night, we looked great, two hot marketing gals and their handsome spouses donned in tuxedos. I wasn’t sure whether I should renew my vows with my husband or ask him to go park my car.
I managed my part of the presentation ok, despite contact lenses that were starting to rotate, throwing the 12 point type in front of me out of focus and one name that I’m sure I butchered. Luckily, the lights were bright enough, that I couldn’t really see anyone in the audience rolling their eyes or yawning.
If there is one thing I really enjoy about these annual beauty pageants, it’s seeing old friends and making new ones. Although I am inevitably humbled by the work of all my talented colleagues at these events, I am secretly glad that my clients are not there to realize all the other great talent that is available to them. Seeing all the great work displayed assured me that I could enjoy the majority of the evening just sitting in my seat since the only people that had to go up to the stage were gold medal winners.
Tracy and I were elated when our first gold was announced and I was so proud, I didn’t even feel the rhinestone digging into my pinky toe as I approached the stage. When the second one was announced, I was stunned. And after that, I told her SHE should go up if, by some stroke of luck we got any more. Of course she refused, saying that “this is for creatives, not account executives” blah… blah…blah. I said whatever just assuming we were done with our catwalks anyway. When our third gold was announced I think we both wanted to jump on the tables, but of course, acted very cool and collected.
Although great creative is really about the results it tallys for the client, I must say, it was nice seeing “Creative Noggin” up on that big jumbotron. But I still feel somewhat selfish getting the “glory” while so many others are involved in the final outcome. It’s not just the creative thinkers, it’s the account executives who know how to plan strategically, the clients who take a chance and trust us, the printers who value the quality of your piece as much as you do, and the list goes on.
So, today the awards are sitting appropriately behind me, my strappy shoes tucked in the back of my closet and it’s back to business as usual, hoping next years theme will be something that requires wearing flip flops.
by Trish McCabe