The London International Awards judging at the Encore Hotel in Las Vegas has just concluded. The judging week was hugely successful and BBDO Singapore’s Tay Guan Hin had the honour to represent Singapore as the Jury President for this year’s Ambient & Activation, Print, Poster and Billboard Jury. Here Guan Hin reports on the the best global judging award’s process and provides insights on this year’s winning winning work.
I am thrilled to have served as the Jury President for the London International Awards alongside a panel of incredibly talented creative leaders. The depth of insights and perspectives shared has been truly enriching.
Theo Gibson, GCD, JOAN New York
Yehoon Lee, VP / ECD, Cheil Worldwide Seoul
Jonathan McMahon, ECD, Special Auckland
Joana Mendes, President, Clube de Criação São Paulo
Joe Sciarrotta, Deputy CCO, Ogilvy Worldwide
Jen Speirs, CCO, Droga5 Dublin
Alvar Suñol, Co-President / CCO, Alma DDB Miami
Marielle Wilsdorf, Partner / Managing Director, Scholz & Friends Hamburg
Right from the start, I encouraged robust debates to ensure each statue winner excelled in their category. This jury experience has deepened my understanding of global cultures and reshaped my perception of creative works. Face-to-face discussions allowed us to scrutinize each piece meticulously. While virtual judging offers convenience, I admit it’s easy to get sidetracked – the immersive in-person process made a difference.
Every entry? We see it! That’s the beauty of the LIA judging process. Jurors are present on-site for EVERY. SINGLE. ROUND. From the initial stage right through to the final statue discussions. There’s no pre-judging here; we ensure every piece of work gets its moment in the spotlight.
And the best part? No quotas. That’s right. Decision-making reins are entirely in our hands – for the Grand LIA or Gold, Silver, Bronze titles, or even Finalists.
The winners stood out for their originality, innovative problem-solving, and sheer creativity, often showcasing big ideas for prominent brands.
On our first day, we went through the ins and outs. It was my longest day, as I aimed to finish everything before the day ended. It’s amusing how I initially thought that online judging would grant me weeks to complete — which feels like forever. But, being a typical creative type, I found myself procrastinating until those last-minute reminders kicked in. I’m given just a day to accomplish everything in an on-site setting. The presence of peers certainly kept me laser-focused on each task at hand.
Ambient & Activation Winners.
This year marked a robust presence in the Ambient and Activation sectors, witnessing the highest number of entries. After meticulous evaluation, the jury awarded a Grand LIA, 16 Golds, 14 Silvers, 16 Bronze Statues, and acknowledged 6 Finalists.
Initially, we contemplated reducing the awards but realized the tally was on par with the previous year. One insightful judge advocated against undercutting the winners given the superior quality of work, swaying everyone’s agreement.
As 16 gold laureates contended for the Grand Prix, selecting the Grand LIA became a delightful dilemma. The process of sieving through led us to the final three: Skittles’ “Apologize the Rainbow”, Samsung’s “Unfear”, and Honest Eggs Co’s “FitChiX”.
After a spirited debate, it boiled down to “Apologize the Rainbow” and “FitChix”. “FitChix”, an unprecedented fitness tracker illustrating chicken activity levels on eggs, clearly stole the judge’s favour, having already clinched three golds and a bronze in various subcategories. Although Skittles’ campaign was stellar, FitChix’s innovation in affirming free and healthy lives for chickens was groundbreaking, leading to a unanimous decision for the Grand LIA.
There was a sentiment for awarding a Grand LIA to an NGO, particularly ‘Knock Knock’. Despite my inclination towards it, the need for more votes and the absence of another Gold-worthy contender made it a tough sell.
In a landscape where digital often overshadows the tangible, our evaluation of the print category was a breath of fresh air. Although the entries were fewer this year, their quality spoke volumes. It showcased a thoughtful selection by agencies, revealing a mature appreciation for the essence of print. The Grand LIAs, one for a Public Service/Charity/NGO, along with the array of golds, silvers, and bronzes, highlighted this medium’s fine artistry and conceptual depth.
The spotlight was undeniably on Leica’s “The One Exhibition”. A narrative told through the lens of a Leica M11. The simplicity and profound impact of transforming a single photograph into a gallery of details captured our imagination. It was not just about the aesthetics but each image fragment’s narrative, unfolding a larger story yet keeping the core idea intact. The accompanying photo book was an ode to the power of 60 megapixels and the boundless creative horizons that print could still venture into.
As we delved into other campaigns, the authenticity resonated with us. Michelob Ultra Mexico’s “Our kind of party”, Ikea’s “Proudly Second best”, Burger King’s various innovative campaigns, and McDelivery’s series all carried a semblance of authentic, unfiltered moments that spoke to the audience. They were conceptual yet relatable, shedding the over-crafted aura that once shrouded the print industry.
The silver and bronze laurel awarded to Solar Impulse manifested print’s potential to catalyze change. Led by Bertrand Piccard, it was an endeavour to marry environmental cognizance with actionable legislative discourse. The “Prêt a voter” draft laws, alongside enlightening books, handed to the French MPs, was print’s attempt at fostering meaningful dialogue, urging a step towards eco-realism.
The Grand LIA for the NGO “Change the Ref” campaign was unsettling yet compelling. The stark imagery of a bullet wound marking a vote on a ballot sheet was a powerful commentary on the repercussions of political choices concerning gun control. It was more than print; it was a mirror held up to society, urging contemplation and action.
Our verdict as a jury transcended the aesthetics; The simplistic yet profound, the authentic yet imaginative, and the visually pleasing yet thought-provoking nature reaffirmed that in print, the big idea still reigns supreme, echoing a resonance long after the page is turned.
This year, the highest honour, the Grand in Poster, was awarded to the NotMilk campaign. The campaign had catchy titles like “We Didn’t Write This Campaign”, “No Leche”, “Calostrum-free”, “The Not Company” and “Food Hero”.
It was nearly a situation where the Poster category would not have a Grand LIA winner. The jury was split down the middle. Half of them were in favour of Not Milk’s “We didn’t write this campaign,” while the other half leaned towards Heinz Ketchup’s “Kitchen”, “QSR” and “Dinner”. It was a tight vote, so I asked everyone to think it over again. Heinz is a big name, and they have always maintained a high standard with their work. This year was no different.
On the other hand, NotCo, the brand behind Not Milk, is a newcomer. Yet, they managed to carve out a spot in the crowded plant-based milk market. They did something quite clever. They faced legal challenges and turned them around to their advantage. They used the exact words from the lawsuits against them in their advertising. It’s amusing to see that the campaign credits mention C&B Lawyers. I wanted to know if these lawyers would also be acknowledged with statues for their clever wording.
Despite awarding two Golds, we were at an impasse when deciding on a Grand LIA. Among the Gold awardees, McDonald’s Happy Ramadan campaign was rightfully placed in its category and deservedly won Gold for Best use of Real-time advertising. This campaign was straightforward in its excellence.
On the other hand, the Coors Light “Chillboards” campaign, which bagged the other Gold and 2 Silvers, sparked much discussion among us. We debated whether it should be categorized as an Ambient or a Billboard. The unique aspect of this campaign was its placement on roofs, which led to questions about its visibility and effectiveness as a billboard. People see a typical billboard, but would people notice it if it’s placed on a roof? The effectiveness of a billboard relies on its visibility, but this was different here.
What set the Coors Light “Chillboards” campaign apart and perhaps what elevated it to a Gold status in our eyes was its tangible impact. The campaign wasn’t just about promoting a brand; it had a real-world effect that people could feel. The custom font used in the billboard managed to reduce roof temperatures by a substantial 50°F/28°C, which in turn lowered the internal temperatures by 10°F/6°C. This innovative approach drew attention and lowered air conditioning costs by up to 20%. This practical and beneficial impact made the campaign stand out, transcending the traditional expectations of a billboard advertisement.
LIA made a grand stride this year, bringing the ceremony live from Las Vegas. The unique approach of announcing Winners and finalists post-jury deliberation added a fresh zest to the age-old tradition.
We don’t just celebrate creative ideas and executions; we foster a community that thrives on originality and excellence.
The phrase “Created for Creatives” resonates profoundly as we reflect on all the winners. It’s not merely a tagline but a powerful message that underscores the essence of LIA. It’s a call to all the creatives out there to keep pushing boundaries, to keep challenging the status quo, and to keep creating.
LIA continues to be an inspiration, encouraging the boundless creativity that shapes our world, making it a colourful, thought-provoking, and ever-evolving event.