A new friend I met at my Networking seminar invited me to join him as his guest to the Philadelphia Addy Awards last week. (Thanks, Peter!) I hate to admit that it has been well over 20-something years since I have attended an Addy Awards evening, honoring the best in local achievements in promotion.
As I entered the venue and climbed the winding stairs with other registrants waiting to reach the badge table, I looked around, wondering if I was at the wrong event. Of the 75 people in line ahead of me, I was the only person above the age of 40. Maybe 35. OK, perhaps 30. Some of the girls wearing spike heels and slinky short cocktail dresses. Others in slouchy work boots and tights. Young hipsters in either bow ties or flannel shirts. A few very slim tapered suits. Many beards and backpacks. Am I at an Imagine Dragons concert?
Nope. The table sign said "The Addy's." My badge was waiting. I felt like the chaperone. So I entered the ballroom looking for someone, anyone I might know. Or perhaps anyone who might remember who James Taylor is. After a few circles around the ballroom, and food tables of sliders and sushi (What ELSE would they serve to this audience? Nailed it!) I texted my friend, who rescued me and brought me to his table. We chuckled together over my younger audience observation, and then began to notice there were, indeed, other "elders" in the room here and there. We networked and made some refreshing new contacts.
And then the program began. A very unconventional program. One with no human host. Lights rose onto the ballroom-size digital screen, as a novel "Show's starting in 5 minutes" spot featuring 4 dogs and a cat with a launch pad counting clock. Every minute, one of the dogs would POOF off the screen leaving, well, errr, a brown "package" in its place on the screen. With one minute left, there was only the cat and 4 poop piles, hopefully NOT a foreshadowing of the presentation to come. My friend Peter whispered that it was a video presentation, no speakers, that would last for 30 minutes. I thought that odd. But, hey, a lot changes in 20+ years.
I looked around, and most people did not even have seats... it was cocktail style sporadic seating. They grouped like packs with their respective agencies, hoping and waiting for their names to be called as a Gold or Silver winner. They seemed OK to stand for another half hour. (Again, what a difference that 20+ years can make. I was relieved for the seat. And I wasn't even in spiked heels.)
Suddenly, like a grandiose Close Encounter experience of Imax proportions, a digital Alexa-esque narrator boomed through the room, guiding us through the categories of awards and their champions, with hints of inter-galactic static thrown in. Nice touch. As I listened to the categories and saw mini-glimpses of the elements that won - I was riveted. Catapulted from my good old days into the future. From the ad world I once knew into foreign categories such as, "Out-of-Home & Ambient Media', "Cross Platform", "Elements of Advertising" (Why not just "Advertising?"), "Microsites", "Apps, Tools & Virtual Reality - Tools & Utilities", "Branded Content & Entertainment for Online/Interactive" and my favorite, "Webisodes."
Thank Goodness there were some traditional categories awarded, like Packaging, Point of Purchase, Posters, Brochures, Printed Annual Reports, Radio Advertising, Advertising Industry Self Promotion, Direct Mail and 3D/Mixed Media (that would be "Promotional Products.") But the big winners of the night and best in show were mostly video.
My point here, folks, is this: Times... they are a changing. Could I just rag about how a new generation is changing what things are called? (Just like when they changed "Personnel Department" to "Human Resources" back in MY day. Still makes no sense to me. But what does the world call it now? Human Resources.)
Sure I could. But I should remember how I felt 20 or 30 years ago when things in my advertising world were changing. There were new trends, new advances, new vehicles like email, just like what's happening today. (Heck... many of these agencies who were finalists in this competition did not even EXIST 20 years ago.) But that doesn't mean that I, as a practitioner and creator of branding programs, should be in the dark about these innovations. They are the waves of the future. And OUR vehicles - promotional products - 3D advertising branding tools - blend with THEIR vehicles.
Even if I will never write or produce a Webisode, I should know what it is, for the sake of my clients. And you should too.
So, read up, my friends. Stay current. Stay connected. We owe it to our clients.
Lots to learn with yah...
Photo credit to the Philadelphia Ad Club. Thanks for an enlightening event. And to Peter Zales of Affordable Offset Printing for the wonderful invitation!
Mary Ellen Sokalski
Diva of Direct Marketing.