CRAFT: THE CREATIVE ISSUE; Is it time to reward the hidden talent and effort behind ads?

Editing, stunts and music may all soon get their own award, Jim Davies reports

Editing, stunts and music may all soon get their own award, Jim Davies


As heads cleared after last month’s 21st British Television Advertising

Awards (Campaign, 15 March), adland took stock of the announcement that

yet another awards scheme is being launched. The first BTAA Advertising

Craft Awards will be held on 19 October at the Business Design Centre in

Islington and will honour the contribution of ‘backroom’ talent to

British advertising. This will include everything from editing and music

to stunts and special effects. ‘We’ve got some of the best craftspeople

in the world working in the industry,’ Peter Bigg, the awards organiser

at the BTAA, says. ‘There’s a great depth of skill here that is

regularly being used by international clients and agencies.’

None of the major advertising awards, Bigg maintains, adequately

recognise the behind-the-scenes blood, sweat and tears that are shed.

The BTAA Craft Awards aims to redress the balance. Entry fees will be

‘cheaper than the major awards’, Bigg says. Each category will be judged

by a panel of five experts plucked from associated disciplines, who will

be asked to assess the commercials in their own time and convene later

with their findings. It’s hoped that agencies as well as companies

involved in all areas of advertising crafts will support the awards.

The Creative Directors’ Forum has already given the awards its blessing.

‘I can see why they’ve launched it,’ Adam Kean, the joint creative

director of Saatchi and Saatchi, says. ‘Production companies want more

recognition for what they do, which is fair enough. But I think its

success will depend on the criteria of the judging. You have to judge

the ads first and then the craft; the craft should always service the

idea.’ Kean has identified the BTAA Craft Awards’ central dilemma -

should you dish out an award to a commercial that has fabulous costumes

but a less-than-fabulous advertising idea behind it? If so, there’s a

danger that the awards could become marginalised.

Gerry Moira, the executive creative director of Publicis, warns they

could end up being like ‘the bit of the Oscars nobody watches’. And he’s

sceptical about the interest they will generate at agencies. ‘It’s like

having a motor show for punters and then having an engineers’ symposium

- it doesn’t have much relevance to what copywriters and art directors

do. But if the moles who work in the post-production houses of Soho want

to stagger blinking into the daylight and give themselves some awards,

then I’m all for it. It’s a burgeoning part of the industry and we are

very good at it.’

Not surprisingly, consensus among ‘the moles’ is more positive. Lloyd

Billings, managing director of the Tape Gallery is typical: ‘We’ll

certainly support it. We’ve been pushing for a best use of sound

category in Creative Circle and D&AD for some time and it looks like we

might finally get it this year. But this way you’re being judged by your

peers. I certainly think all the video editors would be up for it.’

Ron Mueck, a model-maker who for the past eight years has worked on

high-profile campaigns for, among others, Smirnoff, Littlewoods and

Camel, is ambivalent about craft awards. ‘I think it’s a great idea in

principle,’ he says. ‘We are unsung heroes. Nobody seems aware of just

how much work we put into making models and somehow it’s always the

photographer or director who ends up being the star. Having said that, I

get lots of pats on the back anyway, and I don’t know if I’d want to

have to pay for one.’

Indeed, the BTAA’s pricing policy could prove crucial. Billings, who is

involved in organising the Creative Circle awards, reckons pounds 30 per

entry would be realistic, otherwise smaller concerns would simply be

priced out, and agencies fed up with forking out for award ceremonies

also need to be wooed.

So does advertising really need another awards scheme? In the

undervalued craft community, the answer would appear to be a muted yes

and, as Adam Kean points out, ‘everyone hates awards until they win one



1 Best of Show

2 Best Director

3 Best Photography

4 Best Set Design

5 Best Editing

6 Best Video Post-production

7 Best Original Music

8 Best Soundtrack

9 Best Performance by Actor or Actress

10 Best Casting

11 Best Animation

12 Best Computer Animation

13 Best Special Effects

14 Best Model-making

15 Best Production Design

16 Best Costume

17 Best Graphics

18 Best New Director

19 Best Camera Operator

20 Best Stunts