Opinion / ANDY Awards
W+K's Colleen DeCourcy shares the ideas with distinction and relevance she was impressed by while judging at the ANDYs
It was a mixed year for the 2013 ANDY Awards. Talented people, a diverse assortment of cultures and types of talent, and as always, a really senior group of creatives who all came with different ideas of what was great work. The ANDYs are the one show I choose to participate in for these very reasons. We argue a lot, we laugh a lot, and we reflect a lot on what it takes to cut through the clutter of advertising with truly original and smart ideas. On the flip side, it was a confusing collection of work to assess; what constitutes "great" work in an industry that has started comparing apples to bananas?
A few throughlines were evident:
The new Holy Grail was a bit of a junk drawer. Lots of shiny objects and gadgets, but not many strong ideas. I'm not referencing cadence and durability here; I'm talking about cohesive concepts that clearly differentiated one brand from another. A lot of the social ideas were rooted in speed and flattery, where we were looking for distinction and ownability. Five years have passed since brands started allocating real dollars to social media. As with the digital revolution, we're talking a better game than the work supports. However, a couple of ideas really captured me. Intel's 'The Beauty Inside' was a truly fresh take on co-creation and social story-telling. I think we'll look back on it as a model that really broke through the limitations of social news and noise.
On the other end of the spectrum was the Oreo work. People have praised its responsiveness. Personally, I was most intrigued by its construct using primarily images, while others commented on the old school print design. It worked because it created visual, passable metaphors for an inclusive world. It provided direction for all the creatives out there bemoaning the Facebook structure of storytelling. The proof that it wasn't just print advertising? It didn't really work as OOH -- it was built for the social stream.
The Guardian's Three Little Pigs. It was kind of perfect. It was slick but nimble, beautifully designed, and relied on social, but strung a really complicated and original take on an easily recognizable narrative. I loved it. It was almost too perfect in comparison with the straight up social work. The hands of the public were missing. I'm not sure if that was really a flaw or just a difference that we felt when the two approaches to social were compared side by side.
Dan Wieden's 'Make me feel something, dude' was never more true that now. Our audiences are moving past the mechanics of how and where, and looking for the beat that still goes on in all of us. 'Do I care? Do I feel something? Is it true?' P&G's Best Job did all those things.
There were a lot of questions about whether an idea was truly new. As we turn the corner on almost 10 years of digital innovation and exploration, it appears that a great idea can still be great without being new. It's the basis of the way we've communicated for generations. Some ideas are just true. Doing them better than anyone else is what works.
One of the judges asked at one point, 'what are we looking for here? A lot of this work would have been golden 10 years ago.' I'm not sure if we know the answer to that. What are our expectations of print today?
The battle of the sexes
Axe's High Maintenance Girl proved yet again that there is gold in the differences between human beings.
Agencies like Barton Graff 3000 and Wieden+Kennedy, New York, showed us once again that really good comedy works better than all the Likes, two-way conversations, and apps that our industry's creative brains can muster. This is linked to emotion, the point above.
Product innovation as a framework for advertising
Nike's Fuel Band is still capturing a lot of attention and spawning good work. Is it advertising? No, and yes. Does it capture our imaginations? Definitely.
The takeaway for me was that advertising does work. It's not dying. In fact, I saw strong evidence that real ideas are retrenching. We should drop our self-loathing and focus our innovative minds on what our clients need from us: ideas with distinction and relevance. Innovation has become our industry's code word for 'We've lost faith in what we do.' The ANDYs are a global view on why we can be proud of the culture we help create.
Colleen DeCourcy is the co-executive creative director at Wieden + Kennedy