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All Awards: How it's helping advertising agencies win trophies at festivals

Juan Christmann and Renato Lopes' newborn Lisbon-based firm All Awards also helps with entry and category strategies or even logistics if need be.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Mar 13, 2013, 06.26 AM IST
Juan Christmann and Renato Lopes
Juan Christmann and Renato Lopes
A few months ago, two awarded South American creative directors quit their jobs at renowned advertising agencies and established a specialist company of their own. So is this the birth of yet another independent creative boutique, setting up shop right across the street from the networked Goliath? The answer is no.

Juan Christmann and Renato Lopes' newborn Lisbon-based firm All Awards is (if it isn't as clear as a Cannes summer day already) a design and production company that, put in layman's terms, helps advertising agencies win trophies at festivals. It is a one stop shop for all your ad festival needs be it lions, pencils, pyramids or Goafest.

Here's how it works. Time and resource strapped creatives from advertising agencies employ their services that includes everything from crafting ideas, presentation material and producing the all important video to show juries. And if that's not enough, they also promise to help with entry and category strategies or even logistics if need be.

After all, with the daily dealings, deadlines, pitches and strap-lines to wrestle with and clients who lurk overhead like dark clouds about to rain on your parade, the adwallah in Mumbai or Memphis has limited creative bandwidth. That's where Christmann and Lopes, who have worked for DDB, Ogilvy, Leo Burnett, Draft FCB, TBWA, Africa and Publicis across continents, hope they could step in, to eliminate some of the pressure.

"A nightmare is what the process can quickly turn into," says Christmann, "We know that because Renato and I have been there." Between the two they have won dozens of Grand Prix, Cannes Lions, awards at D&AD and One Show, among others. And it seems this particular creative predicament exists everywhere. The company has clients and interested parties from markets across Europe and Latin America including Italy, Portugal, Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Venezuela.

It's a fact universally acknowledged that entry presentations can make or break your case. Especially if the work is not world famous or from the US or is unknown to the jurors many of whom posses American sensibilities and backgrounds. Or even if your country does not have a seasoned statesman on the jury.

"At international ad festivals judges come from all over the world and they are well aware of international ideas and work. A truly universal idea will go beyond borders and will resonate with all. However, sometimes local ideas need a quick set up for judges to understand the background," says Lopes.

"So the presentation has to have international references and cues. An example would be 'The Most Popular Song' for Banco Popular by JWT Puerto Rico. It is as local as a campaign can get. They refer to the band, El Gran Combo that created and performed the iconic song ‘No Hago Más Na’ as The Rolling Stones of Puerto Rico. That's all it needed," points out Christmann.

The reality is even ad campaigns require great and smart storytelling. According to Bobby Pawar, chief creative officer, JWT India, "where it could help is when you have to enter promo, direct, titanium or integrated. In all of these different categories, sometimes you are so close to the case you can't put it across that sharply. The video case is advertising for an idea, really. The idea is your product and sometimes you need an outside expert to emphasise the appeal of it. They could help with sculpting the story. It's not about how good it looks; it is about how well you chisel the argument."

Furthermore says Lopes one has to have a little compassion for the award juries. "They have to go through 4,000 pieces of communication in one week. So don't mess with the timing. Nail it in the first thirty seconds, build up emotion. Remember your entry has to stand out from 3,999 others." "All good ideas can be conveyed in one sentence," adds Christmann.

A lot depends on the entry AV and the creation of this piece of film is an art in itself according to Agnello Dias, co-founder Taproot India. In 2008 he was a national creative director at JWT India and the creative mind behind 'Lead India', a Times Of India campaign that won the country's first Grand Prix at Cannes Lions. "One has a handful of minutes and if you take a huge chunk out of that time to show your ad, you are left with very little to capture the full impact of the idea."
This is however most certainly not the first we've heard of agencies outsourcing award festival jobs. Sometimes what it takes is flying down your best global creative team from within the network to local offices. They work not on creatives but act like a covert intelligence unit deployed to work on award entries because The Agency thinks it has a chance to win.

JWT's Pawar considers this service "the professionalisation of winning awards. You need experts for everything now." "Of course if you look at it from a cynical point of view, it's another stone to throw. It's like Uma Thurman's ex husband Ethan Hawke making a point about the Oscars. The thing is he doesn't have an Oscar!"

Pawar continues, "But let's take it as a game, a sport, say the FIFA World Cup. If you are going to play you might as well play to win. So you engage the best coaches or do whatever it takes." Adds Josy Paul, chairman, BBDO India, "They'll find a market. It will help those who aren't familiar with the whole process. It's an innovative start. People are talking about it and that creates energy. And I say anything that creates energy has legs. We just have to see where they take it."

Christmann and Lopes are particularly thrilled at the prospect of breaking ground in the Indian market and putting their skills to use on campaigns produced by local agencies, even if they are not willing to reveal the price tag that their services will command. "We were too late unfortunately. We would have loved to help India win its first Grand Prix at Cannes," they tell us. And they have a ready answer when we ask why they chose to help others win rather than add more metal to their existing tally. Christmann says, rather candidly and far from magnanimously, "It is good to be boss."

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