Apologies are in order – LBB is continuing its mission to annoy as many people as possible by jetting off to exotic locations and rubbing your nose in it. This week we’re in Las Vegas, that desert confection and monument of man’s victory over nature, for the LIA 2012 judging session and inaugural Creative Conversations forum.
It’s my first time in the neon-stripped gambler’s paradise and with the combination of flamboyantly delicious bad taste, extravagant hotels, and bustling casinos, I’m feeling decidedly over-stimulated. And that’s before factoring in the thought-provoking debates and inspiring talks that I’ve been sitting in on at the Creative Conversations event. I mean it. If my brain explodes leaving grey goop and skull fragments all over the carpet of my lovely hotel room, the LIA organisers will have that one very cross Mother Swinton to deal with. I just don’t know how many ideas my feeble cranium can possibly hold. Seriously verging into Mr Creosote territory (that there’s a big up to all the Monty Python fans in da house).
In particular there has been a lot of discussion around social responsibility and how that is feeding into an existential crisis within advertising. With trust and transparency at the top of people’s minds when it comes to their evaluation of brands, it’s not enough to slap on a slogan, create a handy app or even arrange a charitable tie in. Brands are going to have to start walking the walk; which means ad agencies will have to start digging deeper. At least that’s the argument from media commentator Bob Garfield, whose talk inspired a lot of discussion on the first day of the event.
It’s amusingly ironic that Garfield’s discussion on how to create sustainable brands with real integrity can so easily be debated within a city built on bling. But then the playfulness and sheer audaciousness of the Las Vegas strip certainly inspires a kind of limitless creativity – not least when you gaze beyond the city limits to the craggy desert beyond.
While the event has attracted world-class judges and speakers – the Kassaeis, Tutssels, Craigens of the industry – my casual chats with the attending young creative has been just as fascinating. By investing in such people, bringing them together and exposing them to such a cornucopia of ideas, the London International Awards are really investing in the future of advertising. It may seem an audacious move to bring a caravan of up-and-coming talent to the desert, but this unusual event is likely to yield a crop of inspired, informed, connected creative able to take advertising forward.
It will be interesting to see what the rest of the week in this mad, mad, mad city brings but I’m definitely feeling more Viva than Fear and Loathing.
And if Matt and I manage to catch Rod Stewart, all the better.