Everyone knows that the Nashville Addy Awards are the Iowa caucuses of the advertising awards season. The importance of this show is common knowledge in the industry because it sets the tone for the kind of work we’ll be seeing at the bigger award shows that are just around the corner.
In the coming weeks you’ll be hearing a lot of people who are humbled and honored to have been selected as a judge for this year’s Clio awards, One Show or Cannes Festival. But they are not as humbled and honored as I am because I was given the great privilege to be a judge at the much more significant Nashville Addy Awards.
So, I can confidently say that I am more humbled and honored than a Rob Riley or, say, a Jeff Benjamin. As a judge, I can now make that call. It’s part of the honor.
I had never been asked to judge an award show before. A reader, who has become a friend, was somehow connected to it and reached out to ask if I’d be interested. Naturally, I said, “Of course.” I do anything for my readers.
I was contacted by the people in Nashville running the show, told when the judging was scheduled to occur and asked for some personal information regarding travel and hotel accommodations.
A few years ago, I was working on a restaurant chain based out of Nashville. I enjoyed going there to visit the client mainly because there happened to be a Chuy’s in Nashville. I’d eat there pretty much every night whenever I was in town. Everyone else would go out for a nice dinner. I’d say I wasn’t feeling well, hang back and then go get an Elvis Presley Memorial combo plate with extra tortillas and a side of queso.
So, I was looking forward to making the trip. However, a few days later I was informed that plans had changed and all of the judging would take place online. I assumed this was some sort of precautionary measure to protect the integrity of the important work we had been tasked with.
Why bring the judges to Nashville where they could possibly be swayed by the powerful interests circulating around the show? I felt it was a smart move. Though I didn’t get my Elvis Presley Memorial combo plate with extra tortillas and a side of queso, at least the judging of this crucial show was kept completely free of any possible influence. After all, this is the Nashville Addy Awards. It’s the Catalina Wine Mixer of award shows.
They don’t really tell you much on how to be a judge. If you’re asked to judge, I believe they assume that you know how to do it. Also, once you’re asked to judge then you are a judge, and no one wants to tell a judge how to judge. So, I did what I do in most situations. I winged it.
I looked for work that made me jealous. I looked for work that felt disruptive or unconventional. I looked for work that made me laugh or made me think. It's pretty much just like a normal day at the office, except you feel really good about yourself because no one’s judging you.
The work didn’t disappoint. There was a lot of good and a healthy smattering of great. I saw plenty of things that made me jealous, stood out and elicited an emotional response. I don’t want to do too much prognosticating, but if the work that brought home metal in the Nashville Addy Awards was any indication of what we’ll see through-out the awards season it should be a bountiful year for creativity and the people who are passionate about it.
But it won’t be.
Because we all know the truth.
We all watched the Super Bowl.
And while there might be some good work getting snuck through in the nooks and crannies of smaller markets, the stuff on the big game was a giant bag of egg farts. There was simply nothing to write home about. They were just commercials with a REALLY expensive media buy. Even the ones with dogs in them were stale. They were trite. They were tropes. They were try-better-next-time.
Maybe the whole Super Bowl thing just isn’t really a thing anymore? Or maybe it’s the fact that you can’t do shitty ads the entire year and then one good one on the Super Bowl. I don’t think that’s going to motivate people to engage with your brand. I think if you do shitty ads all year and then slap together a slightly better shitty ad for one football game, people aren’t going to sing your praises. I think they stopped listening halfway through the season.
Meanwhile, those Super Bowl ads aren’t getting any cheaper. And if they don’t generate the ROI to justify the spend (which they won't) then I doubt the brands are going to eat the costs. They’ll just do a round of layoffs. Or better yet, they’ll slash their ad budgets for the rest of the year and let the advertising agencies do the layoffs for them. Whatever the case may be, someone’s getting laid off. You can be sure of that.
But not in Nashville. They’re doing good work down there. Plus, they have a Chuy’s. And in the opinion of this court, the only thing that town is guilty of is being awesome.
Thanks for reading. I'll see you again real soon.