The CCC. An awards show comeback worthy of an award.

September 12, 2008

CCC winners, including Best in Show.

After much controversy, criticism and concern, the Chicago Creative Club awards was resurrected last night in the United Club at Soldier Field. While it was by no means a flawless affair, it was a far sight better than the debacle some 15 months ago. Without going into it, the previous show had degraded into a one-sided and ugly contest right before many of our eyes. Participants left drunk and/or dismayed and certainly disenchanted. We woke up to beastly reviews from the local press. Most felt the show had been ruined beyond repair.

We pointed fingers at one another, pissed and moaned about Chicago’s deteriorated creative community, and then, well, went back to our business. There were ads to make. Websites to build. Pitches to win.

Something happened, however, on the way to the funeral. A small group of decent creative persons decided not to let the thing die. Chief among them the Chief Creative Officer of Two by Four, David Stevenson. He came to consultant, Ann Brown’s side when few others would and set up to rebuild our beleaguered award show into something we could all be proud of. Others scoffed. Many more were indifferent. But the coalition of the willing grew. By the time I was asked to help it was “on” again, even if many big questions remained.

We decided to use preeminent local judges, not flown in “stars” from other agencies. The idea here was simple. We made the mess. We had to fix it. Fostering real community was critical. Having a judge from every participating agency meant that participation was certain. Beyond our ads, we now all had skin in the game, literally.

And so, on a Saturday in August two dozen of Chicago’s best creative talents convened at Euro RSCG and made their selections from a previously culled shortlist. My creative partner and ECD of Euro RSCG, Blake Ebel was among them. His quote, caught on camera, summed it up. “This is pretty awesome, guys, all of us together, judging each other’s work.”

Indeed, a jury of our peers. Then and there, Chicago’s creative community was reborn. And from what I could tell, that corp d’esprit carried right over into the show. The best pieces won and, more importantly, we were able to congratulate each other for doing them. Gone was the rude peanut gallery and with it, the copious amounts of Schadenfreud that polluted shows previous. In addition to good ads and good people, the much-maligned venue (too far, no cabs, etc) shined for us that night. After the ceremony, cocktails and light dinner were had out of doors beneath the mighty pillars of Soldier Field. We were even graced by a late evening fireworks show, probably courtesy of some rich couple’s wedding at the Yacht club nearby!

But for me the highpoint came at the end of the awards presentation. Best of show had been given to BBDO, for its ripping Canadian Club campaign: “Damn Right Your Dad Drank It.” Everyone cheered. And cheered. And cheered some more. A deserving campaign, but the applause was bigger. It felt like the biggest winner of all was… us.

A final note: Beware smugness. The CCC may be out of the weeds but hardly in safe harbor. More improvement is necessary. While turnout was a pleasant surprise, there should have been more people, especially newcomers and students. Somehow, ticket prices will have to come down. And where was Cramer Krasselt? As a leading creative agency in town, their seeming boycott was a blot.

A complete list of winners was not available as of this writing. Please check the CCC website for updates. The awards show book comes out this Fall.


7 Responses to “The CCC. An awards show comeback worthy of an award.”

  1. That Canadian Club work is really strong, and definitely worthy of the award it received…

  2. Mike Davidson said

    Thanks for this.
    I was the AS on the Canadian Club work at EnergyBBDO, but have since moved out to SF-GSPGoodby.
    Anyway, I read the show’s results in trades (and unfortunately in Lazare’s piece!) and sent my congrats back to Derek and Jason. But none of that gave me an idea of what it was like there in the room that night quite like your thoughts.
    As a huge fan of the ad community in Chicago, it made me proud.
    Thanks for sharing!

  3. […] more gory details of how the Chicago Creative Club got its act together, go to Postaer’s blog. Comments (View) function() { links = document.getElementsByTagName(‘a’); query = ‘?’; for(var i = […]

  4. gary said

    One more real issue: entry prices. More than Communication Arts, same as Cannes. Way too much for stduents, small agencies, etc to enter. If you want this show to truly reflect and be an opportunity for local talent, you have to make it affordable for agencies besides Leo Burnett to enter.

    Attendance could be addressed with some publicity. Most creatives I know had no clue the show was that night. Word spread at the last second. No mention the day before in Lewis’ column, no mention at all on creativeityonline or adweek. Will there be mentions there of the results?

  5. SRP said

    Communication and ticket prices are two things we are definitely looking at improving. The good news is these items can be corrected prior to very next show. I love that people give a damn. That’s what we ned more than anything.

  6. Voice of Reason said

    I see you picked up a medal for valspar. Must feel pretty good. It’s great work. My agency was one of the “blots” that didn’t enter. I hope we reconsider next year. It sounded like a good time as well as a good show.

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