Why Epica awards are a different angle on creativity
Agencies crave for the approval of other agency creatives, while in some cases neglecting the recognition of people who dedicated their own professional life to their work
Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
By: Adnan Arnautlija
Only a short stroll away from some of the best museums and galleries of the world, participants of Epica jury, headed by Vice-Chairman of Time Inc. Norman Pearlstine, spent the last week in Amsterdam watching, discussing and evaluating the best works that the communications industry has offered in the past year. Representatives of the most influential media dedicated to the advertising industry gathered there, and in the atmosphere of art that exudes from almost every street of Amsterdam marked the thirtieth birthday of Epica Awards.
The whole week has been marked by creativity and art, from the very works that reached the shortlist, over the dinner which Epica Awards organized in cooperation with Euronews, where the jury members prepared their own meals under the guidance of celebrity chef Ramon Beuk, to the Creative Circle conference on the topic “From Advertising to ARTvertising”, where we had a chance to find out why creativity and emotion are part of a recipe of a different kind – a recipe for good business – but also to learn more about one of this year’s Grand Prix winners, “The Next Rembrandt”.
It was an opportunity not only to learn about the latest trends in the advertising industry, but also to meet with colleagues from other markets. It was an opportunity for networking, exchange of experiences and opinions, and arrangement of possible future collaborations. For Media Marketing, the obvious goal of these talks was the call for more visibility of creativity coming from Europe, especially creativity coming from our region. I believe that my persistent nagging of how we should pay more attention to each other, and strengthen exchanges between our media, has been quite annoying for some of my colleagues there. What will become of the talks and agreements made with jury members from the Netherlands, Hungary, Turkey, Denmark, Spain, Russia, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Chile … remains to be seen.
This year the Epica awards received a total of 3806 entries from 66 countries, among which the best for the shortlist was selected by an online jury of more than 100 journalists and bloggers dedicated to the advertising industry. The best of the best were then chosen by the grand jury of Epica Awards in Amsterdam, which was by no means an easy task. Works in the finals were truly great, which makes it difficult to blame the pre-selection jury for the fact that some of my favorites did not appear on the list. In any case, out of those 3806 works in the final I had “our” storks and contemporary art in the palm of your hand for which to cheer and lobby for. I hope that I played at least a small part in the silver for Imago and Jana (although I was aiming for gold, and even higher), but I was truly saddened by the absence of the Belgrade McCann from the list of winners (as well as the absence of the fabulous Lav Popcorn on the shortlist).
All the works that came before the final jury confirmed once more that the agencies invest most of their effort and attention in video. It has become a tradition that this is a category where it is most difficult to choose the best ones, simply because each work that reaches the finals contains all the elements that make it above average, and each has a distinctive trait that sets it apart even in this elite circle. On the other hand, there is a visible lack of creativity and innovation in print. If we were to judge solely by registered works, it could be concluded that the agencies simply focus their creative efforts towards other areas which provide prospects for a better future. However, some of the journalists with whom I talked pointed out that the growth of ad blockers, new ways of distribution and some other factors could return Print some of its old glory, and thus draw more attention of creatives to this field.
But Epica Awards have also unearthed one significant problem, which lies not in the entered works, nor those that end up in the final rounds. The problem is in the works that aren’t entered in the competition at all. During the year, all media representatives who were present in the Epica jury wrote about some works that certainly should have found themselves in this year’s showcase of the best, but which were not registered for the competition. On the other hand, a number of works that the jury had the opportunity to evaluate appeared in categories in which they were not expected.
In the beginning it didn’t make much sense, but slowly a pattern began to emerge. A certain part of these works were entered by production companies, not creative agencies, which entered them in the categories related to their own work and field of interest. Creative agencies obviously crave more for the acknowledgment of their value by other agency creatives, and not by journalists who have dedicated their own professional work to their creativity, and who truly bring a new angle on creativity. Maybe they are afraid that journalists do not have the “sensibility” for their creativity, and that only another creative director can understand them. Or maybe they just don’t appreciate the opinion of the media. Although alarming, these options (if true) are something that can be worked on. You can talk with the agencies and explain to them how journalists are those who scrutinize their work and weigh it against others throughout the year on a daily basis, keeping their fingers on the pulse of the market and therefore having the best insight into the success and potentials of specific campaigns. The real problem is actually if this lack of interest among the agencies is due to the fear of an impartial jury of those who will truly put their work under a magnifying glass, and will not slip into the age old game of “you scratch my back…”
Anyway, I already look forward to next year’s Epica Awards. It will be the 31st birthday of Epica, and we all know that real life begins only after you hit 30.