What happens in Vegas, we must learn from

Inside the LIAA judging room, Brent Choi gives his lessons from Sin City

Inside the LIAA judging room, Brent Choi shares his lessons from Sin City

Brent Choi, chief creative officer at Cundari, let Marketing behind closed doors at the London International Awards’ judging event in Las Vegas. Between judging sessions, Choi met with fellow Canadian judges to discuss global marketing trends on display at the 28th annual awards

There are a lot of perks to judging an international award show. It’s a great honour and you usually get to stay in some amazing places (in this case, the Encore Hotel in Las Vegas). However, arguably the best part is you’re privy to case studies of the year’s best work from around the world.

At this year’s LIAA, Canada is represented by Israel Diaz (CCO at Y&R Toronto) who is judging Non-Traditional and Print categories, Terry O’Reilly (founder of Pirate Radio & Television) tasked with Radio, and myself, looking over all things Digital.

Most of the final judging is near completion and there are some definite trends we’re seeing.

“There’s been a concerted effort to mainly recognize and reward simple, strong ideas for big brands with tough briefs,” said Diaz about the Print and Non-Traditional work, “ideas that don’t necessarily rely on the latest piece of technology, and ones which people naturally want to talk about without employing forced social media.”

Standing out in Radio has never been more difficult. “The big trend I see is that dozens of spots are using the ‘stereo’ spectrum to full effect.” O’Reilly said, “meaning that many spots are having one actor in the left speaker and another on the right. Or sometimes all the sound is only on one side. Or the sound jumps from one side to the other. I’m surprised by how many spots have used that technique this year.”

When it comes to the Digital categories, social continues to be a driver in many of the strongest entries. With that said, the most meaningful trend is the move from engagement to utility. It’s easy to award fun, interactive experiences, but some of the ideas that we’re judging are game-changing in how useful they are. The best way to describe them is they’re not ads. They’re closer to inventions or products (e.g. Google Wallet and Nike Fuelband).

“Perhaps the biggest step brands like Nike and Google have taken is to close the gap between their marketing and product teams – this fundamentally rewrites the brief for their partners and dictates a more meaningful product at the end of the creative process,” said Neil Robinson, executive creative director of AKQA, and a fellow digital jurist.

These awards shows used to be about competing against Crispin and BBH, and now our challenge is to out-create products by Microsoft and IBM, which is a colossal task when you think about things like Nike Fuelband. There’s a definite shift occurring with our business. It’s no longer advertising. It’s not just for agencies. It’s creativity, applied in new, wonderful ways.

Finalists for all categories will be announced on Oct. 9. Hopefully Canada will be well represented. We’d love to share the winners we know of with you, but that has to stay in Vegas.

Brent Choi is chief creative officer at Cundari, an independently owned full-service creative agency in Toronto.

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