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Opinion and Insight
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Is Looking Back The New Way Forward?

DDB EMEA, 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Fabian Roser, MD / ECD at DDB Hamburg, reflects on digital judging at ADC Germany 2016

Is Looking Back The New Way Forward?

ADC Germany 2016. “Heroes of content”. I am a proud member of the jury that got to look at hundreds of pieces of work. Websites, platforms, e-commerce, microsites, digital campaigns, innovative technology, craft. Awesome. And a category for ideas for today’s connected age. All the cool stuff, right?

The overall results of this year’s ADC tell a different story: 0 gold awarded for digital work (“Digitale Medien” – including all subcategories), while admittedly beautiful, but rather traditional work won gold seven times (“Print & Out of home” – including all subcategories).

Is this a new trend? 
Has digital overkill resulted in a turn away from digital? 
Is looking back the new way forward? 
I don’t think so.

The first reason I thought of was that juries were very strict and had ridiculously high standards, especially the complex, digital juries. I think that’s fine and should be the challenge for any jury. After all, it’s the jury’s job to explore the unknown and honour work that finds suprising answers to old questions. But should the standards be so different from jury to jury? The definition of an idea that deserves to be awarded “Gold” at the ADC is that it “redefines the category”. Is that easier to do in “Print” than it is in “Digital Media”? Or was the work entered into the digital juries just not good enough? 

That leads me to the second and actually far more important reason that I could think of: truly valuable ideas that set standards and explore the unknown in a digital, connected age go far beyond advertising! They include digital services, tools, products or platforms that transform the way we think, feel, behave, communicate and buy or make a decision to buy. Or they simply make our lives easier. For years, these ideas, by the looks of it, were not recognised and acknowledged at most award shows in the creative industries – including the ADC. And as a result, many of the most innovative creatives, brands and agencies started to lose interest in submitting what they are inventing and creating as a business! 

If award shows really want to honour the best of “creative communication”, they need to acknowledge that in a connected age that goes far beyond advertising. And if we, as creatives in the industry – and this also applies to the creative award shows – don’t want to fall behind as an “advertsing industry” and “advertising show”, we need to understand that in an ever-changing world, the standards and values of creative ideas and communication are also ever-changing and we all need to continuously adjust to it. In an ever-changing world, we as an industry, and in the best interest of our clients, need to understand that what Bill Bernbach, the founder of DDB, once said – “Nobody counts the number of ads you run, they just remember the impression you make.” – is still true. And we need to act on it. Not only in our daily business, but also when it comes to what we regard as a truly groundbreaking idea that deserves “Gold”. 


Fabian Roser is MD / ECD at DDB Hamburg