When creatives judge their fellow creatives in awards shows, one might argue it's a good way to ensure strong work is appreciated. Others might argue it gets a bit … incestuous.
To promote the fact that the Epica Awards are the only major ad industry honors judged solely by journalists rather members of the creative industry, Epica has launched a new call-for-entries ad campaign that somewhat subtly satirizes the better-known events like the Cannes Lions, One Show and Clio Awards (the last of which, I should note by way of disclosure, is owned by Adweek's parent company but operated independently of this magazine).
In each ad—created by Paris-based agency Altmann+Pacreau—we see a text message being sent to a famous ad figure such as Wieden + Kennedy co-founder Dan Wieden or Leo Burnett global creative chief Mark Tutssel. The person sending the message is usually commenting on the ad star's upcoming role on an awards juror, while subtly hinting at a bit of a quid pro quo arrangement that will help sway some votes.
"When you serve on a jury, you receive lots of 'friendly' messages, trying to find out what's going on and putting a gentle pressure on your judgment," said one of the campaign's creators, Altmann+Pacreau co-founder Olivier Altmann. "So we built on this insight to promote Epica, one of the few worldwide awards that most agencies support specifically because of its singularity."
We never see a response from the industry icons, so the campaign stops short of accusing anyone directly of having malleable ethics, and most of those featured do have strong reputations for impartiality in their award selections.
But the ads do highlight some of the unspoken weirdness that goes into the industry's interwoven relationships. And of course it highlights that Epica's judges are journalists who are largely detached from the personal relationships of advertising—and even barred from judging work from their home countries. I was an Epica juror (one of only two from America) in 2015 and can vouch for the impressive neutrality of the judging process.
While some veteran creatives might feel a bit slighted by this campaign, hopefully they'll take it with a grain of salt and admit that even when everyone's above board, the judging process almost always makes for strange bedfellows.