The British Television Advertising Awards 1999: Chairman’s report

In the week we were judging this year’s BTAA, knowing I’d be goggling at over 1,000 commercials, a couple of people offered commiserations along the lines of, ’Poor you, what an ordeal’, etc. And it is true that I emerged blinking from the viewing theatre at the end of each day as pallid and as pop-eyed as Gollum, muttering, ’Ah, preciousness, preciousness’.

In the week we were judging this year’s BTAA, knowing I’d be

goggling at over 1,000 commercials, a couple of people offered

commiserations along the lines of, ’Poor you, what an ordeal’, etc. And

it is true that I emerged blinking from the viewing theatre at the end

of each day as pallid and as pop-eyed as Gollum, muttering, ’Ah,

preciousness, preciousness’.



Perhaps I am as sad and as sick as Tolkien’s ghoul because, actually, I

found watching commercials all day long a pleasure and a privilege.



It helped, of course, that the films we saw represented the top 10 per

cent of all those aired in the year.



Only a handful looked like a wilful waste of the entry fees.



Our job was to whittle that 10 per cent down to the top 1 per cent. Then

down to the top 0.001 per cent for the golds and silvers. Not easy,

given that the jurors came from three distinct areas within our

industry.



That’s what separates BTAA from other awards ’do’s’. Clients comprise

one-third of the jury. Production companies and agency creatives make up

the other two-thirds. You’d imagine getting people with such different

perspectives to agree on anything, let alone on what is outstanding

advertising, would be nigh impossible - but, amazingly, it wasn’t.

Clients can and do recognise brilliant work. But where creative people

can sometimes judge work in a vacuum, as advertising art, the clients on

the jury wanted to bring us back to earth, raising issues of branding

and of communications objectives.



Rightly so.



That being said, it was revealing that only a couple of films polarised

opinion. The VW Polo ’Self Defence’ commercial excited some radically

different views, and debate about the Levi’s ’’Sta-Prest’ ads was also

vigorous. The campaign hadn’t made it to the short-list, but the jury

insisted on bringing it back and, pleasingly, even gave it an arrow.



’Good on yer,’ I wanted to say to my jurors about this wonderfully

off-the-wall work, but I bit my tongue. As the chairman, you’re meant to

be dignified and diffident, rather than noisily enthusiastic. Yet there

was much to be enthusiastic about. Looking at the 1,200 commercials

submitted, we got to peer right into the heart of our industry. It seems

to me to be in pretty good nick. As evidence of this overall

healthiness, please note the gold award winners came from a broad

spectrum of categories.



On the other hand, with the notable exception of Guinness’s ’Swimblack’,

the beer and drinks category was surprisingly threadbare. There were no

entries whatsoever in household appliances. And the corporate category,

though it did throw up a gold, had few films of real quality.



At the end of it all, we had five commercials up for the Big One - the

ITV winner.



What this tells you is that there was no one single film which, right

from the start, everyone knew would do the business. In 1995, even

before the judges had met, it was almost certain Levi’s ’Drugstore’

would be voted best commercial of the year. In 1997, Blackcurrant Tango

’St. George’ had success written all over it. This year, though several

jurors had started off confidently predicting who would win the ultimate

prize, they were all wrong. That being said, they wound up being pretty

close to unanimous when it came to the Grand Prix.



When you see the award winners, I hope you’ll agree that there are some

remarkable talents strutting our stage. Writers and art directors, whose

scripts are given polish by some outstanding directors, supported by

some of the best technicians in the world. Being able to honour the

brightest and best in our industry is an honour for me and my jury.



Topics

Become a member of Campaign from just £46 a quarter

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to campaignlive.co.uk ,plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Become a member

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an Alert Now

Partner content

Share

1 Stop and stare at what these nine brands did for the eclipse

You don't have to shield your eyes from social media during an eclipse - brands from DoubleTree by Hilton to Pizza Hut have found creative ways to capitalise on the total solar eclipse.

Share

1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).