A view from Johnny Vulkan

Perspective: Scandinavians with a creative mind and a head for business

I think many people have a love/hate relationship with awards shows, especially if you happen to be judging them.

Adjudicating online, in particular, seems to induce a chemical reaction probably not that dissimilar to the kind experienced by people hooked on one-armed bandits or Chatroulette. Hey, if we just keep going, maybe next time we'll strike gold.

But let me make a suggestion to help improve your odds - check out some of the latest student work and, in particular, the kind coming from Scandinavia. Much of what I've seen in the past few weeks is actually becoming more interesting than the "real" stuff - you know, the stuff that gets paid for. Of course, students do start off with a few big advantages. Often there's no client process to navigate and, maybe more importantly, there's no agency one either. Budgets are purely theoretical and timings are notional but, all that aside, I've still been left very pleasantly surprised and rather excited.

The vast majority of entries have been simple, singular ideas that live comfortably in several channels, each building on the other, integrating with multiple points of contact and all crafted with tender love and care.

And what is most exciting is that instinctive media thinking and commercial consciousness seem to be far closer to the surface in their work, making for wonderfully smart creative ideas that are overtly about business results, not just peer approval and industry accolades. These are the types of ideas that clients would love to buy for their businesses. Beautiful, simple, well-executed ideas that respect the fact that our role is often about those last six feet at retail and not the last 60 seconds of TV or six minutes of a webisode.

And yet this kind of thinking remains in peripheral categories at awards shows or is more likely to only be well represented at the Effies. We sadly still have a habit of regarding and rewarding this type of thinking as "emerging oddities" rather than embracing the possibility that they represent a window on to our future commercial reality and that they therefore belong at the core.

For some reason, Scandinavia seems to get this. Of course, I'd like to think it's because Sweden, Finland and Norway didn't qualify for the World Cup, freeing a generation of young thinkers from the distractions of the tournament to come. But let's face it, that would be wishful thinking. Maybe some of it's because, four years ago, the Danish government had the foresight to send a group of people to visit interesting new companies around the world with a simple question: "We'd like to brief our schools and universities on creating new courses. What skills will companies like yours be looking for five years from now?" Now is as good a time as any to ask ourselves the same question.

- Johnny Vulkan is a partner at Anomaly.