Great ideas get killed every day. Creatives who are still pining for accolades for those never-to-be seen gems now have an outlet beyond their personal portfolios. Sort of.
A trio of Australian creatives have launched the PDFies, an "awards show" that has no losers. Billed as "the world’s first awards for almost doing something," the PDFies celebrates the ideas that never got made. It’s self-judged and gives print-your-own trophies. "It’s the perfect awards show," said one of the creators, in an email interview. "You don’t need to prove you have done anything and you judge for yourself. Everybody wins."
Yes it’s a spoof, a site poking fun at the ad business and its awards-show culture. The site is replete with comedic variations of expected awards show constructs. Standard categories are included, like film, press and integrated, but so are ones unique to the PDFies like "Over 90 pages, clearly you had a big idea," and "Time wasted," which promises to "kick-start the healing process."
The team behind the parody prefer to remain anonymous to protect their careers. There are three of them, all co-workers — "mid-level creatives," they said — at one of the global agency networks. And they are not as bitter toward their chosen industry as the PDFies might suggest. "We’ve been at it for a few years now, and over that time we’ve learnt that the best way to deal with this curious industry is to have a bit of a laugh at it," said one.
The PDFies, of course, has a back story. It has a founding father, a character named Neil Titelman, who is said to have started the show after a few dry years on the awards circuit. "I became disenchanted and foolishly began questioning my own brilliance. That was until I had a moment of clarity: my best work was dying before any jury ever saw it," he writes in his welcoming note on the site.
The team imagined Titelman as an aging creative director who is trying to protect himself from the stresses of the industry and fear of irrelevance. "He is the embodiment of the duelling insecurity and arrogance people see in creatives," explained one of the creators.
So to feed that insatiable creative ego, the site allows visitors to print out personalized, easy-to-assemble, gold-colored trophies to "numb the pain" that comes with an idea rejected. "It’s not much, but at least it’s something," said the team representative. "And it’s free."
Though they are having a laugh at the importance the industry places on awards shows, the team did point out they are no better than any other creative in the business. "We don’t think we’re above awards or cleverer than the people who care. We’d love as many as we can get," said one of the anonymous trio. "It is a pretty strange culture to be a part of, though."