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The Influencers

It’s Time for Talent

INFLUENCER: Rachelle Madden, Executive Director of the post production trade association AICE, explains why when it comes to awards season, independent companies shine

It’s Time for Talent

That special time is upon us again. Every year, from March through June, the ad industry turns its often glassy-eyed gaze squarely on itself and hands out myriad honours for work in all manner of media, craft, category, technique, region or trend.

From all corners of the globe, ad agencies, production companies, post houses, music shops and effects studios are either racing like mad to meet entry deadlines or keeping their fingers crossed that juries already convened will look favourably on their TV spot, sound track, web video, branded content project, music video or fashion film – you name it, if it exists in advertising, there’s a show for it. 

We’re playing our part in this too. Our own AICE Awards, which recognises excellence in the post production arts, is well under way. By the time you read this we’ll almost have our shortlist in hand. Two weeks from now we’ll be ordering trophies, and not long after that we’ll be handing them out. If you’re in Chicago on May 12th, be sure to join us. 

Regardless of what craft or achievement an awards show recognises, one thing that’s universally accepted is that when it comes to these competitions, the top creative talent always rises to the top. And it’s our belief at AICE, not surprisingly, that the best talent, the best thinking and the best work typically comes from independent companies. 

We’re specifically referring here to the global community of independent production and post production companies – and by independent, we mean those not owned by ad agencies or ad agency holding companies. For them, this awards season brings new realities. Many now find themselves competing for work with production or post production operations housed within agencies themselves, turning their former clients into rivals. 

Globally, the agency in-house movement is growing and we believe there’s room for independents and these in-house departments to co-exist, even partner, as long as fairness and transparency are maintained. 

But when it comes to recognising the best work – which is what awards shows are all about – independents are bound to have the edge. They have to; independents work with a different set of expectations than in-house units. They’re not funnelled assignments through a built-in pipeline of work; independent companies are hired strictly on the merits of their ideas and their body of work, and as a result they have to prove themselves every time they go to bat. Each project is a truly competitive test, won on the strength of their creative skill, and their ingenuity when it comes to delivering what’s needed for the budget available.

In addition, the most exciting new looks and the most trend-setting techniques often come from companies that are constantly presented with unique challenges by an ever-changing roster of clients, working in a range of categories and genres. Experimenting with new ways to dazzle and amaze, and fine-tuning a treatment that’s sure to blow everyone’s socks off, is necessary to survival in this fiercely competitive independent marketplace.

Add to this the fact that most independent companies were founded by creative people driven solely by the desire to turn their passion for their craft into a viable living – whereas most in-house units were founded strictly with a mandate to capture revenue for their agency or holding company – and you see why the independents clearly have an edge when it comes to putting out truly great creative work.

So keep a close eye on what wins at all these upcoming awards shows. You’ll likely find that when it’s time to recognise, honour, elevate and celebrate great work, the best and brightest examples will come from companies that are proud to be independent. 

Rachelle Madden is Executive Director of the AICE
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