Judge, Jury and…

In January, I flew to Waterloo, Iowa to judge the AAF – Cedar Valley ADDY’s. It was definitely a career highlight, despite the fact that I had to take two flights – the first long, the second shorter, but on a prop jet that had to land on a snowy runway. Yikes.

Fortunately, my hosts in Waterloo were as warm as the temperature was cold. My hosts chauffeured me to a local business for the judging. The building had an auditorium where all of the entries were neatly and systematically displayed. Myself and two other judges – one a group creative director from a large agency in Minneapolis, the other a senior executive producer from a firm in Springfield, Illinois– were handed our own thick stacks of judging forms, organized by category to match the 300+ displayed entries.

After a briefing on how to score the entries and what point values constituted Silver and Gold awards, we were off and running. It was a blast. And it was the first time in my career I’ve gotten to judge work besides my own. I took the responsibility to heart and tried to be as fair as possible. Hey, these were people’s careers and egos I was messing with.

Like most creative work, some was mediocre. Some was respectable. And some was great. After looking at the print, we watched the TV and videos, and listened to the radio spots. The varying points of view from the judges made for lively discussion, but it was amazing to me just how often we were all on the same page in our opinions. We collaborated in choosing awards for “Best of Show” and best art direction and copywriting.

Finally, we were asked to participate in a video for the awards gala, sharing our thoughts on the work in the various categories. I told viewers they all got high marks just for living there in the wintertime! I learned that no matter where you go, those of us in this crazy business share the same commitment to do good work, meet good people, and enjoy good times. And if I’m ever asked to do it again, I’ll definitely be good to go.

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