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The CUP judging celebrates not only great work, but its creators, too

As the Intercontinental Advertising Cup 2008 judging in Bled, Slovenia is over, it makes sense to point out why The CUP is unlike any other advertising awards?

The CUP is not unique only in its efforts to understand and promote local cultures and thus efficiency of advertising it celebrates – it is also uniquely equipped to promote the people who create it!

The CUP judging system has been conceived by Michael Conrad, one of the most respected all-time greats of the industry, who culminated his lifelong career in advertising by stepping into Leo Burnett’s shoes as Worldwide Chief Creative Officer of the eponymous company.

He earned global respect by his efforts to creatively upgrade all of more than one hundred agencies in Leo Burnett roster and not only focusing on a couple of award-winning shops.

Michael is fully aware that great advertising is not only made of ideas, and he wanted The CUP awards to celebrate many professionals who turn good ideas into great ads. Therefore all entries are judged for excellence in their crafting, too, and strategic thinking as well.

These Best of Admaking categories are reminiscent of Academy Awards’ ”technical” Oscars which may receive little lay public attention, but are very important in building reputations of the best people behind the scenes.

Another interesting feature that reflects the real life is the struggle of brands for our attention in diversified media environment. In other festivals entries compete only against other entries in the same medium, while in The CUP judging they are pitched against other media executions, too. Therefore, to take one real-life example from the 2008 judging, 5 nominees in a single category came from film, interactive, media innovations, “one2one” and campaign – and from these the jury selected the category winner – rather like the real life where people don’t base their brand preferences on a single medium, but on the one that best meets their needs and aspirations.

On the other hand the jury was paying attention to particularly successful work in every single medium, thus nominating 5 finalists in the Best of Media competition, too. Eventually media received their respective CUP winners, too – and to some extent these were identical to Products & Services categories winners.

And again the comparison with the Oscars is not entirely unfounded when the jury finally gets to pick the GRAND CUP – the CUP of CUPS. As often happens, the winner of the Best Picture Oscar is usually a winner of several other Oscars, too.

It seems fitting that in the age that is giving back to the consumer all the power that has been taken away for a while in the reign of mass media, the advertising creativity is returning to the individual, too: the adman and woman whose work begins with that timeless stare at a blank sheet of paper (or software).

The care, understanding and attention to details that admen have uncompromisingly strived for to create memorable advertising is repaid by the recognition of the best of the best from the whole world.

Intercontinental Advertising Cup is a special advertising award in several respects

The most important is the fact that, although eminently global, it pays enormous attention to local tone of voice and cultural uniqueness that make-or-break good and – what’s much more important – efficient advertising.

Unfortunately many global shows fail to appreciate the local – and thus the efficient – in advertising. It is mostly due to lack of time because eminent jurors could not afford to spend weeks in judging sessions, but also to the fact that international advertising is still very much run from global centers such as New York or London. And this tends to favor work and style of work that is relatively well known and accessible to internationally seasoned creative directors. And this kind of work is usually dominated by Anglo-Saxon and Hollywood style communication.

There are, however, many national and/or regional advertising festivals that do manage to recognize and treasure local touch. Yet until the last year they were not connected in order to have a worldwide impact.

In 2006 an initiative by 3 very strong regional festival was set in motion that resulted in the Intercontinental Advertising Cup – The CUP, jointly organized by

ADFEST of Asia-Pacific,
FIAP of Ibero-America,
GOLDEN DRUM of the New Europe,
ADC*E – Art Directors Club of Europe.

This eminent company started from 2 important founding principles:
1   The CUP’s international jury is to be composed of top-tier global creatives,
2   Only finalists of qualifying festivals participate which due to much smaller quantity of entries allows enough time for quality judging that is thus able to take into account local elements that would be overlooked if it were business as usual.

Thus the key concept of The CUP is GENIUS LOCI –  the spirit of the place, the mark not only of an able salesman, but of a friend. And if advertising is to be successful, it needs to be perceived by its recipients as someone they are happy to welcome in their lives, not a violent intruder.

Bucuresti, 12.11.2008

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