Isherwood labours the point at Lynx

March 15, 2009

The incendiary howl of Jimi Hendrix’s Star Spangled Banner was certainly an arresting fanfare for the start of Dubai Lynx week – and an intriguing prelude to Bob Isherwood’s opening address. But then things went distinctly off key.

A jarring succession of films, audio clips and photos followed – steam trains, Bob Dylan, The Simpsons, Mohammad Ali, Concorde, the Guggenheim, Good Morning Vietnam. And so it went on… And on… For about half-an-hour, in fact. Interspersed with words such as “originality” and “inspiration”.

When the  former creative head of Saatchi & Saatchi finally appeared on stage, a stunning explanation was required. How sad, therefore, that Isherwood began by urging people not to leave. Not a good advert for your own speech, surely.

Next came a highly-complex lecture on nano-technology. It seemed ‘the point’, if ever there was one, had long ago left the auditorium and gone for a leisurely coffee. When ‘the point’ eventually appeared, it made a muted entrance. The preceding lecture, a transcript from a senior scientist, was very good but irrelevant to this particular audience, explained Isherwood. The point being that messages must be relevant. Had it really taken us almost 45 minutes to arrive at this?

Messages, he said, must be original, relevant and emotionally connective. According to Isherwood’s rather crude analogy, the acronym is ORE, which can of course be turned into gold.

Then came a demonstration of this, combining an image of Black Panthers at the Olympics, Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech, and Bruce Springsteen’s “We Shall Overcome”.

How disappointing that a seminar about originality largely comprised of borrowed material; a seminar about relevance said so little about advertising; a seminar about emotional involvement relied upon epic moments of history and culture to entertain us.

Did anyone learn anything from Isherwood at the Dubai International Advertising Festival today?


International judge slates Lynx TV entries

March 15, 2009

An interesting blog concerning the judging of the Dubai Lynx has come to our attention – one by none other than Tim Burrowes, a former editor of Campaign ME.

On his website, mUmBRELLA, he refers to comments made by Steffan Postaer of Euro RSCG Chicago. Steffan’s comments regarding the judging of the TV category aren’t too flattering. See for yourself, courtesy of mUmBRELLA:

“RSS is a wonderful thing. If you don’t already use it, it’s a very efficient way of staying up to date with what’s new on a long list of sites.

But their are perils for the unwary, which Euro RSCG Chicago creative honcho Steffan Postaer may not yet have discovered. Because if you regret saying something and change it on the web site, sometimes the outside world can still see it on your RSS feed.  

Take the (as it appears now, very short) piece he’s written for the AdFreak blog about his judging of the Dubai Lynx Awards in the Middle East. In the piece, he observes, mildly:

I assume they chose TV as the opening category because it is usually a crowd pleaser at advertising award shows.   The next category was Print & Posters…”

But the RSS feed tells a different, and rather more controversial, story from the only North American member of the panel:

I assume they chose TV as the opening category because it is usually a crowd pleaser at advertising award shows. Unfortunately, this was not the case in this contest. Of approximately 250 submitted campaigns, I saw, let me see, none that were worthy of a gold medal. Frankly, I didn’t see a commercial of merit in the lot.   Zero is an appalling number, I know. If the other judges view the work as I did, we will have a major controversy on our hands. I can’t imagine an award ceremony without any winners whatsoever. Chief judge Than Khai Meng has himself a conundrum: give prizes to the undeserving, or blank an entire region?   The work seemed naive by any standard. Primitive. Platitudinous. At times even vulgar. I saw no films that even made me smile. On the contrary, much of it evoked grimaces from our increasingly frustrated jury. Big clients like Coke and McDonald’s fared no better than local concerns. A lot of the content reminded me of clichés from the West, and from another era.”

The post also has a sign-off which didn’t appear in the original RSS message: “I’m learning that it’s unfair to assume that a Western standard for creativity exists in the Middle East. After all, we’ve been doing it longer and have far less restrictions.”