Ad Club Celebrates Advolution Of Advertising

May 22, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — At the end of the evening, the floor of the Grand Room at the Frederick Meijer Gardens looked as if a fresh snow of business cards had just fallen. Cards of advertising execs, advertising hopefuls, students, artists, models, copywriters, media reps and everything in between had slipped through the hands of nearly 600 visitors to the Ad Club of West Michigan's 2000 Addy Awards.

The celebration's theme, "Advolution," dealt with the evolution of advertising. Characters representing different periods of time in advertising circulated the room to educate guests and illustrate the theme of the night.

"This year we have a record number of entrants and a record number of attendants," said Richard Proffer of AT&T Media Services and co-chair/P.R. for the event. "This year is also different from the past because we have a professional emcee."

David Dugan, comedian, took the audience on a space and time exploration through the world of advertising while also keeping the atmosphere light with a bit of humor.

"The ceremony and the entire night was designed to show the best creative work done in the advertising community of West Michigan," said Proffer. In fact, not only was work shown from agencies and students around town, the presentation itself was a creative display of the work of numerous collaborators.

Three apes started the presentation by inspecting the earliest form of advertising: hieroglyphics. From there, Dugan began the show with a brief collage of past and present television ads and followed with the presentation of awards.

Carrying through with the theme of "advolution," the presentation of awards itself demonstrated how far media has come with its technologically advanced presentation of awards, all done on video.

The top four awards of the night, Best of Show, were presented to: Fairly Painless Advertising, print; Copper, broadcast; Christopher Fox, student; and Ken Davis, judges' choice.

"The Meijer Gardens was an ideal place to have the celebration this year," Proffer said,  "because they have brand new accommodations, a large enough space to fit over 500 people in and move them through freely without being shoulder to shoulder, and it is a creative place in itself. We felt everything just fell into place with the entire atmosphere."

Although the evening came off without a hitch, Proffer said a great deal of preparation, time, judging and planning went into the event, all starting at the end of last year's event.

Five judges from across the country with backgrounds in different areas of advertising judged each student and professional entry.

The judges for the 2000 Addy Awards were Don Brown, principal in brownchild, ltd. in Houston; Dave Galligos, senior art director for Austin Kelly, Atlanta; Vivian Henoch, associate creative director at Ligget-Stashower Inc., Cleveland; Janet Webber, associate creative director for DDB Worldwide, Chicago; and Rebecca Hickey, art director for Fallon Worldwide, Minneapolis.

Bill McKendry, whose company, Hanon McKendry, won 10 Addy awards, said he commended the judges.

"The judging was tough this year and they didn't give out many Addys, but that is also good for the agencies because it makes them step up their work. I also commend them for taking a chance on us and recognizing the good work that was submitted and not letting their own personal politics get in the way."

McKendry said that in the past it has been possible for judges to judge based on what they like, rather than what is good work. "We do a lot of advertising for ideas that aren't popular in our industry — Proposal One, religion issues and politics — but it shouldn't be the issues that are judged, it should be the work for those issues. So I commend the judges this year for looking at the work for what it is," McKendry added.

He also felt the judges were strong in the print area, giving more Addys but also judging with tougher criteria. Proffer said the judges imposed tough criteria on themselves.

"The judges weren't given a direction or set of criteria to look for in the work," said Proffer. "They each had their own lines of judging, but one thing they all looked for was fresh creativity. They believe they came out with the freshest creativity from what was entered in the area."

"If there becomes something the judges want to look for or develop a set of guidelines amongst themselves, that is very possible. Collaboration is always encouraged," said Amy Staskey, of Lamar Outdoor Advertising and co-chair/P.R. for the event.

Beginning in mid-January, all five judges judged the student and professional artwork separately. The professional work was then judged by print and broadcast work. From there, the two types of media were judged in 16 categories and then sub-divided again into 50 categories ranging from letterhead and envelopes to national television ads.

The student work was divided into eight categories and judged on its own merit. Anyone may enter the competition: members of the ad club, non-members, agencies or free-lancers.

The one criterion is that the ad must be either designed by a local company or for a local company. "There must be a tie into the area and once the company has entered it here, they can't enter it anywhere else," Staskey noted.

The winners of the West Michigan Addy Awards, which Staskey calls "West Michigan's Academy Awards," are automatically entered into the District Addy Competition to be held at the end of April in Detroit. From there, the stakes continue to get higher and the entrants eventually advance to the national competition.

At the Thursday night awards presentation there were three levels of awards given out, Best of Show, the Addy and a Citation. "The thing that people don't understand is that there isn't an Addy given out for every category. It isn't a first-, second-, third-place contest. The judges pick the absolute best work and that is awarded an Addy," said Staskey.

A new thing this year, started by Staskey, is a congratulation to the award winners by area businesses. "We want to get the local media and avenues through which these advertising companies advertise to dedicate space in their publication or on their billboard to congratulate the Addy Award winners," said Staskey.

A few companies that have already jumped on board are Infiniti, Lamar Outdoor Advertising, The Grand Rapids Press, Women's Edition and Adams Outdoor.

"We are asking that they donate a quarter page ad or one billboard for this purpose. It is a chance for good things to come for both the donator and the winner. I brought this project with me into this position, and I expect it will grow into next year and even further," she added.

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