Personally, I felt a bit scammed by the judges forums at this year’s Chillies. Not just because the judges’ comments weren’t really indicative of Saturday’s results, but in some cases they were downright misleading. The reason the forums are thought to be useful (and therefore popular with the ticket-buying agencies) is because they give us a peek at the thinking behind the foreign judges’ thinking process when it comes to deciding who gets awarded and who doesn’t. In 2007, some of the entries that were heavily criticized at the forums (eg: the Hit Ads integrated entry) predictably bombed on the awards night. Therefore it was pretty easy to deduce just why the campaign failed in the judges’ collective opinion.
In contrast, this year, entries that were shredded at the forums, like the Alumex campaign by Triad, went on to win metal, while creators of work that won initial high praise (such as Leo Burnett’s ‘coffee cup’ and O&M’s ‘other side’) were left scratching their heads as to why their entries didn’t score higher, or in the latter case, weren’t even awarded. Obviously, not everything’s of equal standard, but it would have been cool to understand why a piece that received no criticism didn’t do better. In the case of the Coffee Cup, I thought it was a much better piece of communication than Triad’s Walls. The former in addition to being brilliant, also did its job in selling the Harry Potter brand; on the other hand, the Walls did a shit job in selling the paint brand (I don’t even know which brand it was), but appealed to the judges sense of karma by going beyond advertising into the realm of community service.
Ultimately, my grouse isn’t really with who won and who lost, ‘cos that’s always going to be a subjective result. My grouse is that the judges’ comments weren’t reflected on award night. John Merrifield basically came out and called the Alumex campaign a scam, as well as a bad ad, but on Saturday it won at least one Bronze, which makes me wonder whether the judges ignored any scammishness at decision time, or whether the forums only reflected John Merrifield’s outspoken opinion. If the latter, was he outvoted during the judging? After the two judges’ forums, I came out thinking I’d got some insight on what we’d done right and wrong, but after Saturday, it seems we didn’t really learn anything at the forums. Hopefully, if the Chillies do put out a book this year of the winners (and it is an if, since they didn’t last year), they’ll include some explanatory comments from the judges, that will clear things up.