Friday, March 16, 2012

Top 10 reasons why the ADDYs are awesome for advertising

Every year creative agencies, marketers, advertisers, and students alike gather up their best work and compete for their chance at ADDY Gold. Simply put, the ADDYs are like the Academy Awards of the ad business. It's a chance for marketers to celebrate their success, collaborate as a community, and to be recognized for outstanding creative excellence- all while having a really good time [re: drinking heavily and shouting obscenities].

I have been fortunate to attend three out of the past five local ADDY award shows put on each year by the Rochester Advertising Federation. This year I opted out for reasons I won't get into. But as I followed (okay, stalked) my industry friends' Twitter feeds, Facebook updates, and Instagram posts during last night's show I knew I was missing out on more than just a good time. I reflected on the two years I spent working at an agency and how much I miss being a part of the action, not just on the outskirts as I often feel [note: working on changing that].

I imagine it's like this for most professions, but for anyone who has never been a part of the ad industry it may be hard to understand the love/hate relationship so many of us feel for the business from time to time. So for those of you who are thinking about advertising as a profession, are in the industry and looking to re-ignite your mojo, or just plain miss it and need a slap in the face for as for why you should go back, just think of the ADDYs. Or in my humble opinion, the top ten reasons why they are so awesome.
10. Umm, resume builder, duh. I'm putting this last because while it's a bonus, it shouldn't be your MO for adding work to the show. However, for those that are more junior and just starting out, having an ADDY under your belt is instant street cred and can help validate that yea, you do know what the hell you are talking about which is exactly why you don't want to be relegated to foam core duty.
9. Brotherly-Sisterly Love. Even amongst teams within the same agency, it's nice to spark a little competition and put a few wagers on which submission will win. That kind of competition is as healthy for team spirit as congratulatory cheers and man-hugs can be. So hug your AE. High-five your uptight Copywriter. Thank your receptionist for helping you make 18 copies of those pitchbooks.
8. Competition. Sure it's fun to prance back to your seat as you brush past your old boss while holding the ADDY Gold, but the spirit of competition runs much deeper. Displaying your best work for your local competition to see is much like stripping down naked. If you are in tip top shape, you are going to look the best, and if your not, well it will definitely spark some motivation for when you get back to the office. Moral of the story: it pushes the community as a whole to be better, regardless if the goal is to claim the title or defend one.
7. Networking. Especially for the Freelancers. It's an awesome venue to connect with potential agencies you want to work with or people you'd love to collaborate with. Just don't be the HR guy that trolls the room looking to poach candidates from every winning agency.
6. Confidence. We all need a pat on the back from time to time as re-assurance we did the right thing, chose the right career, took a smart risk. If your client's aren't helping to pump you up, feel free to put your pride in a little lucite statue- even if it's just until the next time someone asks you to make the logo bigger.
5. Humility. A vast majority of creative types have an ego (yes, even you). Some are more recognizable than the others, like the Account Planner who claims to be a "social media expert" (c r i n g e). But even if you don't have an in-your-face attitude, it's necessary to not always be the best. It keeps the Type A's in check and forces the heavyweight agencies to realize there are more fish in the sea.
4. Community. There is something to be said for a room full of stunningly funny, creative, and hardworking people. Competition or not, at the end of the day every agency, freelancer, and company is there to celebrate the art of the business. To toast to the ability to create emotion and connect people through the power marketing, in every form it takes.
3. Inspiration. Obviously the highlight of the show is the work. Seeing the submissions while putting it into the context of the creative process is remarkable. It's amazing how much effort is put into a single piece of work; how a problem can turn into an opportunity which then sparks an idea that is crafted into a beautifully constructed communication. I especially like looking at the student submissions. Each year they seem to get better and better. Knowing there is a fresh crop of talent waiting to jump into the industry is exciting and is a testament to the hopeful and curious spirit we should all still have.
Side note, big props to the team this year for putting together the submission Web page for all to actually take in the beauty of the work- especially awesome for those that didn't get to go. 
2. It's a celebration, bitches. As much as you hear "don't get drunk in front of your co-workers" from any kind of professional advice, I assure you, and I say this with caution, almost anything goes and can be forgiven during a state of euphoria while attending. Even needs to let loose and doing so in front of your co-workers can be therapeutic. Plus, it's funny to remind Kim from Accounting what she did the next time she bugs you about your time sheet.
1. Passion. The raw emotion and excitement that is elicited when you prep for the big night, see an old colleague, and hear your name or company announced as a winner speaks volumes for the passion one has for the industry. Reasons 10 through 2 all contribute to the zeal the ADDY's are about: no guts, no glory. We put our heart's into our work, pull over-nighter's or skip our lunch, not for some trophy, but for the glory of coming together as a creative community to celebrate a common passion.
 Congratulations to all the winners of the 2012 Rochester ADDY awards!

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