I recently traveled to St. Louis to be a judge for the 2012-2013 ADDY Awards with the Ad Club of Saint Louis, the “Oldest Ad Club in America”, founded in 1901. Wes Morgan of Morgan Studio East extended the invitation to me in early September. Cubic has been part of several ADDY and Graphex competitions as a submitter, but I wasn’t sure what to expect from the judge’s side of the table. I eagerly accepted the invitation to find out.
Joe Mastroianni, Chief Marketing Officer at Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating and ADDY Chair, is the Club’s Judging coordinator. He has been part of the Saint Louis ADDY Awards for 16 years. His experience was evident by the extremely efficient and very enjoyable nature of the judging weekend.
Joe picked me up at the airport on Friday night and took me to the Westin Hotel to get ready for dinner with all of the judges. Later that night Joe treated all of the judges, Wes and Dr. Kristy Tucciarone, Associate Teaching Professor at the University of Missouri – Saint Louis to dinner at Vin de Set, an amazing French restaurant near downtown. The other judges included Sharon Harms, VP/Group Creative Director at The Buntin Group in Nashville, Pat Harris, Creative Director at Enguage in Pittsburgh, and Rietje Becker, Design Director at Sterling Brands in New York City. It was a great evening of conversation about advertising, past experiences and life in general. It was very clear that Wes was a pro at selecting judges. The most interesting question of the night was, “What would you want to do if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now?” Answers ranged from taco stand operator to astronaut.
Saturday started early with a short trip to the Anheiser Busch Corporate offices to begin the judging process. Kristy introduced us to our “shadows”, students from UMSL, who helped us with our score sheets and anything else we needed. This was the first year for a completely online scoring system. Entries were entered online by agencies before submitting physical examples of the work and all scoring was computed by the new system. I had spent a few hours in the days prior (mostly the night before) judging most of the digital categories. As I completed my score sheets, the shadows would take them to the coordinators for entry into the system. We spent the morning grading print, environmental and outdoor entries. Then, after lunch, we graded the video and radio work as a group.
At the start of the judging process, my biggest concern was how I could take the subjectivity out of the process and leave my personal likes and dislikes aside. Eventually, I realized that wasn’t necessarily possible. All of my life experiences and work in the advertising industry would ultimately play a part in my judging decisions. I guess that’s why there is more than one judge. Ultimately, I decided upon 3 criteria to judge each piece: Emotional Response, Aesthetic Value and Intellectual Appeal. My scores reflected the answers to “Did I feel it?”, “Did it look cool?”, and “Did it make sense?”. I was inspired by several pieces, in awe of some and laughed at others (in a good way, of course). It was great to see a body of work outside of my community from agencies of all sizes for clients of all sizes. The best part was sharing perspectives and experiences with advertising peers from around the country.
After all of the scores were tallied, the Gold level work was brought back out to review for the Best of Show Award and any others agreed upon by the judges. The Best of Show Award was a clear winner. We spent about an hour discussing the merits of each Gold piece and eventually agreed upon a few other Judges’ Awards. In all, we spent 12 hours judging on Saturday. Despite the long day, it all was very enjoyable thanks to the great company and organization. The night ended with a group picture and another fabulous dinner at The Dubliner in downtown Saint Louis (thanks again, Joe).
Overall, judging the ADDYs was an unforgettable experience highlighted by meeting some exceptional people with diverse backgrounds. Thank you, Joe, Wes, Kristy, Sharon, Pat and Rietje. I hope our paths cross again soon.