Miris Kolama – Chillies Report 2010
by Black Lullaby (blacklullaby.wordpress.com)
Does anyone remember the Bell Awards? At one point it was thought to have been Sri Lanka’s Oscars, when all marketing & communications folk gathered together in large numbers to celebrate the effort gone into advertising creations in the year gone by. You might recall this annual event better as the SLIM Awards. Yes that’s the one.
We would all get dressed up in our finest garments only to throw up on them later in the evening as the level of alcohol increased with every award tally that appeared on screen. However, 2005 saw the industry in uproar over SLIM. It was said that an establishment so dedicated to the field of marketing would never see the merit or value of good, creative advertising. Then, the impossible happened. An industry so hell-bent on vicious manipulation and underhanded deception put their differences aside and banded together to bring down SLIM. And so when 2006 rolled in we all saw the birth of The Chillies.
Enter Chillies – Stage Centre
When the Chillies began we were told that it was due to a collective effort by the industry to raise the creative bar and place Sri Lanka on the advertising map of the world. We saw internationally acclaimed judges being flown in; they shared with us their knowledge of the industry through their own experience and success, they showed us that anyone could compete in the international arena and win – with the right tools. With these components in place, we all seemed rather satisfied with where the industry was headed.
But one must ask, once more, the question that a few intelligent people asked at the beginning. For how long can a group of people who are so dedicated to winning at all costs, cooperate with each other?
Half a Decade Later…
This year marks the 5th Annual Chillies Creative Advertising Awards and all those who stood side by side for the good of the industry have finally dropped their facade of magnanimity and perseverance. If one was to ask: ‘why did they do away with SLIM and create the Chillies in the first place?’ one would receive a series of responses, the most common of which is: ‘because we want to promote creative excellence and raise industry standards.’
But I suppose our ad industry has proved one more time that even though people are able to change their perspective, their constitution isn’t easily altered. After experiencing near five years of the Chillies, first hand, every single year, I can clearly state that no one in this industry gives a damn about “good, creative advertising”. No, that’s just the label that a box of hidden agendas has been given.
If the people in this industry really cared about raising the bar of creativity in Sri Lankan advertising, then everyone tugging on to strings attached the various puppets that appear in the foreground should bring themselves to let go. There are those who still believe in the principles this award show was grounded on when it first started. It is unfortunate that the very people who designed those principles have now decided to ignore them, but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t expected.
The Crystal Ball Says:
Every year we beat the loudest drum about stepping on to the international stage and every year we keep taking a few steps backward. When the Chillies first began I remember judges telling us that they were so meticulous with the judging, they believed that an ad awarded Gold at the Chillies could very well stand a chance anywhere else in the world. Sadly, since 2006, all we’ve heard the speakers at the various forums say is: ‘we are disappointed in the number of good, creative pieces that have been entered but of the lot we have seen, we believe there is promise.’
We, the people who actually work late, sacrifice our weekends, smoke our stress away, give up time spent with our families and think of ideas till we’re brain dead; we the back-room creative types whose hard work this award show is supposed to be all about have not even been asked how we feel about the way things are unfolding. Instead, a few people who believe they’re doing what’s best for us, continue to make a mockery out of all our hard work.
Rules change every year, blueprints change every year (sometimes three times a year), scoring systems change every year and for what? So that the powers that be can manipulate the outcome of the awards even before the entries have been submitted? That’s what some people say and they could very well be right. It is an unfortunate thing to see the fine print being crafted to make up for the lack of originality. I say this because I believe that if an agency is cock-sure they’ve done award winning work, then they wouldn’t give a rat’s ass about how to stop another agency from entering the awards.
And all these flat notes are played off one single instrument, it’s called SCAM!
And now… a special lesson in SCAM!
The highly esteemed, brutally talented people of the ad world found a little pet years ago; a pet they nourished over the years bringing it up to be a monster that would later devour the good spirit of our industry. This monster is better referred to as SCAM.
So what is SCAM? In the context of advertising, the definition of SCAM is as follows: a piece of communication done for a non-existent brand, product or organization.
However, the geniuses of our industry decided that this definition should be further enhanced, so now it reads as follows: a piece of communication that has not been scheduled more than once in the media, or one that has been done pro actively (meaning without the client’s requirement or brief) for a brand, product or organization.
Now we don’t know why ‘proactive’ work became a sin or when, but what we do know is that if day-to-day client work is all we had to enter for awards, we’d all go home with nothing, well maybe a finalist now and again. But, here we are, still talking about raising the creative bar of excellence.
Kudos to the people who’ve never done a single ‘proactive’ piece for the purpose of awards in their entire lives. It’s nice to know that our industry breeds such morally upright individuals who would gladly lay down their lives for the eradication of what they call SCAM.
In closing I’d like to say that maybe one day the Sri Lankan ad people will learn to respect each other for their work and come together to honestly do what’s best for our industry and not themselves. I know that there are those who aspire to change things and make things better, but I fear that by the time they rise to the positions of power that will allow them to do so, they would also have adapted into the art of shadow games inspired by the greed for victory.
That concludes the black lullaby’s Chillies Report for 2010, see you again next year, hopefully.