News & Views

Art Directors Club / 2013 Festival

by Nick Parish

Contagious' Nick Parish goes to South Beach to catch up on ad craft

Where does a celebration of craft fit in today's advertising industry? That's what the Art Directors Club answered last week in South Beach, where it convened its 92nd annual awards and first-ever festival. 

And it's a valid one. There are far too many awards schemes, from regional shows to broader celebrations of mainstream web culture to specialist media, recognizing myriad attributes of powerful communications.  

But where does the communications industry laud the 'making' aspects of what it does? The answer, in this case, wasn't another set of awards, or another category, it was finding a purpose for one that already existed, with a tradition that went as far back as the days of linotype and a mission that included working to 'dignify the field of business art in the eyes of artists'. Judges were asked to use craft as their guide, and think, 'What is the lesson that I'm giving to the rest of the industry?' 

This theme was pervasive through the festival elements as well. Speakers like Bruce Mau and Oliviero Toscani gave spiritual encouragement, to dare to tackle big problems and find strength in the power of creativity. 'If you want to change something for the better, there's an unlimited market to do it,' Mau said. 

The three days spent in conference sessions in and around the W South Beach hotel were devoid of talk of like big data and algorithms and instead focused on monograms and making exquisite photos with a mobile phone. 

Is this all there is to the art and science of communications? No. But, it made a very refreshing break from an overload of the latter. Meanwhile, the crowd -- creatives -- wasn't hampered by the presence of clients or overloaded with a jam-packed agenda, and, the ADC, a non-profit, makes sure dollars spent on its programs stay in the industry. Full disclosure: I'm on the board of the ADC and believe in its mission.

Big winners during the evening's awards shows included Forsman & Bodenfors, which took home interactive agency of the year and multiple accolades for its Volvo Trucks launch work; McCann New York, named Agency of the Year with gold wins for Nature Valley 'Trail View', IKEA augmented reality catalog and the Verizon COLOR live app; and Dentsu, Design Firm of the Year, for its Life is Electric work for Panasonic

A full list of the winners can be found at the ADC's site. No best-in-show work was selected.