Publicis Dublin board creative director Carol Lambert reflects on her experiences judging for The One Show in the Dominican Republic
One of the responsibilities that comes when you’re creative director of international repute is that you get invited to bring your critical faculties to bear judging the advertising industry’s awards shows.
Publicis Dublin’s Carol Lambert is one such creative. She recently flew out to the Dominican Republic as a member of The One Show’s Print and Outdoor jury - the only Irish creative included in this diverse international group.
LBB’s Alex Reeves caught up with Carol on the phone before she left the tropical sunshine to find out what she’s learnt from the experience.
LBB> How’s the Dominican Republic? Not a bad destination for a business trip!
CL> It’s beautiful. It’s an amazing place to do judging and I’d imagine that’s what makes all the judges come out. It was very clever on the part of the One Show to have judging in such an amazing place.
Even though it’s in the Dominican Republic we’re in these massive rooms with no windows and we’re there from first thing in the morning until the evening time. We get a break for lunch and little odd breaks now and again for a few minutes for a cup of tea or to go to the bathroom. It’s nice when you come out of those dark rooms to come to an environment like this because in five minutes you can get refreshed and think ‘oh my god I’m in an amazing place!’ and then you go back into the room again.
LBB> How did you get on with the other 11 members of the print and outdoor jury?
CL> It’s good. You’re under pressure to make sure you vote well but you know that because there’s quite a lot of people on the panel, if any one of us makes a mistake or gets it wrong or we like something that maybe nobody else can see, then you know that there are enough people on the jury to spot any errors. People come from all walks of life. I don’t think anybody’s from the same country. They’re coming from everywhere. Everybody is really humble. Very respectful.
From start to finish your judging is anonymous. You do get to discuss the work but we’ve all got iPads and nobody’s going to know how I vote. I know that in other competitions there’s lobbying before juries go out where people contact them to say ‘my work is coming up in a category that you’re judging’. So even if lobbying is happening nobody can control the jury.
And it stops one dominant voice in the room from forcing people to vote in any particular way. Even with a great bunch of people you know what human nature is like. So that’s been enlightening for me. We’ve all felt that it was our opinion that mattered.
LBB> You’re the only Irish creative on a very international jury. What’s that been like?
CL> It was amazing because Saint Patrick’s Day happened when we were out here. Patrick’s Day seems to be celebrated more over the world than it does in Ireland! It was fantastic! They dyed the food green. Everybody wore green. They didn’t dye the swimming pool any funny colour but…
It’s been a real honour for me to meet so many people from different types of agencies. Ireland is a small country but I’ve been able to talk to the other creative directors on the jury about how they manage difficult clients, how they manage budgets, how they’re making profits, what ways briefs have changed, what technologies have affected their business. It’s great to get another view on everything and realise that even though Ireland is small, the same things are popping up in countries all over the world. And I’m sure it’s been the same for every other juror. We’re all picking each others’ brains to see if we can improve things when we go back to our own agencies.
LBB> Have you got a sense of how people from elsewhere view Irish advertising?
CL> Great work is happening in Ireland. We don’t have as many big budgets, so when entering international award shows we tend to be quite picky. We also tend to not throw an entry into lots and lots of categories. It’s not that it’s difficult for your work to stand out because obviously it has to be really good. And if it’s really good it will. But we definitely don’t have the same budgets that other markets have. Throughout the judging you could see how some agencies had a lot of money to spend. And we were very conscious to see if there’s anything else that could stand out, to keep an eye out for that sort of work, because some campaigns really dominate,.
It’s important to have smaller countries represented because we give a different view and it gives us a sense of where the work is at. And that allows me to go back home and share that knowledge with everybody.
I think that, because we’re from a smaller country, there’s a sense for Irish people to be a little bit more ninja about our work. A lot of Irish people are working in agencies abroad. So everybody had somebody in their agency that they worked with that was from Ireland and doing great work. I think there’s a draw for us. There is a real longing for the small countries - the Norways, the Swedens, the Irelands - to kind of go in and shake things up a little bit. Maybe because we’re small we can be a little bit more nimble and look at things from a different perspective.
The bigger markets are just expected to do well. They’ve got bigger budgets, more creative teams working on stuff. But they’re all looking to the smaller countries to see what talent is out there and learn from the sort of work we’re doing.
LBB> What work has the process alerted you to that you found particularly inspiring?
CL> There were two pieces for me that I picked out. One was the Book of Rock [for Kiss FM by Almap BBDO Brazil], which was for a radio station. It was absolutely the most perfect piece I’ve ever seen. Every single page had been thought about and crafted beautifully. I would have framed every page of it. I really wanted the physical books to be there. We only got to see printouts of the pages. I just thought ‘wow’. For someone to put so much effort into a piece... It was incredible how much patience that took and how much the client was willing to invest in it. I thought that was outstanding.
There was another entry for Libération, a French newspaper that was given over to refugees for a day. When you’re in the Print and Outdoor category, that is for me the real thing that says how powerful the print medium is. The refugees got to write stories about subject matters in France from their point of view. It went as far as the President [at the time] - François Hollande, with three of the journalist refugees getting to meet him. It increased sales hugely for the paper. But I thought if ever you wanted to say that the print medium was powerful, that was the one that really summed it up for me. It really touched me and if anybody’s saying print is dead they need to look at this entry. It’s very moving and very simple and brave for the client. And I applaud them for that. They should be really proud.
LBB> With the judging experience fresh in your mind, what advice would you offer to people entering creative award shows?
CL> I would say that sometimes you get really good ideas and they get let down by execution. And those ideas don’t do as well as they could even if the idea is great and it is our job as creatives to really consider every single element on the page.
If I could give people another bit of advice it would be to give a lot of consideration to your case study. Only talk about the idea. Don’t talk about the production of it. Don’t spend too long on it. The best case films were where they just explained the idea and the effect the idea had on people. It could really piss us off when we have to go searching for what the idea is.