CRAFT: COLUMN; Why the Kinsale competition is the best there is

In an emotion-charged night a year ago, hundreds of delegates cheered to the rafters as the Kinsale Awards Festival came adrift in a sea of Murphy’s Irish Stout. Were they cheering Tony Kaye’s latest award? No. Was it for a scintillatingly witty speech from John Hegarty? Not this time.

In an emotion-charged night a year ago, hundreds of delegates cheered to

the rafters as the Kinsale Awards Festival came adrift in a sea of

Murphy’s Irish Stout. Were they cheering Tony Kaye’s latest award? No.

Was it for a scintillatingly witty speech from John Hegarty? Not this

time.



They were cheering the amazing Steve Collins beating all kinds of

bejasus out of Chris Eubank. The big fight had coincided with the final

awards evening, and the Kinsale organisers had arranged for delegates to

view the fight on a big screen immediately after the awards ceremony.



Imagine that happening at D&AD. Kinsale is different. Different in so

many ways from other advertising festivals.



Take the juries. Over the years they have been packed with some of the

most statesman-like figures in advertising and films. People like Ed

McCabe, Jerry Della Femina, Jay Chiat, John Hegarty and Tony Cox. The

juries are tight, compact, usually about six people, so there’s no block

voting. And they don’t arrive with any preconceived ideas about who

should get the awards.



But awards are not the main reason people go there. Most people go

because they’ve been before. They arrive and pick up conversations where

they left off the previous year. They come to renew old friendships. To

meet like-minded colleagues in the industry. To enjoy the finest seafood

on the planet and to quaff the local brews along the most beautiful

coastline that God created.



Undoubtedly the delegates themselves are different. Calmer, kinder,

cheerier, wittier. And yes, I must say it, drunker. The majority of them

come from the UK and Ireland. A plane-load usually comes in from

Australia. And, for some reason, the place is hugely popular with Finns.



The festival is usually completely devoid of posers - probably because

anyone who gets out of line is thrown into the sea - a policy that would

improve Cannes no end, except there wouldn’t be any delegates left.



In comparison with other awards events, I would say the judging is, at

the very least, equal to the best of them, and better than most. The

social side is leagues ahead of anything else I’ve ever attended. And

the place itself? Well, as they say locally, it’s where God goes on

holiday.



Other things, like workshops, talks, etc. Well they’re there too. And

people tell me they’re pretty good.



Does Kinsale have a downside? Yes, it most certainly does. It comes to

an end. But that’s only to give you time to recharge the batteries for

next year.



Ian Hutton is deputy creative director of J. Walter Thompson



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