Well we went, and we experienced the 2011 Chicago Addy Awards reception at Resolution Digital Studios on the city's west side. But before we offer a few observations about the experience itself, we must report the big news: Leo Burnett walked off with the Best of Show Award for its "Mayhem" television campaign for Allstate Insurance.
The top award winner came as no surprise, really. The pre-reception buzz suggested the campaign was headed for the winner's circle. We personally have not been among its biggest fans, as scare-tactic advertising just doesn't work so well for us. But it is certainly a well-produced and well-acted effort, and we can see how others might have fancied it a winner.
What of the awards reception itself? Well, it made manifest what was most obvious about the outcome of this Chicago Addy competition -- the first of its sort in nearly a decade. Though there were said to be 400 entries overall in a multitude of categories, what seemed apparent Thursday night was that Leo Burnett and its Arc arm picked up an alarmingly large number of the awards.
There was some (quiet) grousing among those in attendance about Burnett's dominance, but for better or for worse, that's the way the judges saw it. Of course the outcome may have had something to do with the number of agencies that chose to participate. As always, the cost of entering was a consideration that ultimately kept some shops from participating as fully as they might have wished.
As for the reception itself, we liked it. Yes, the number of people in attendance seemed on the low side, but that, quite frankly, made it a much more pleasant experience for those who were there. The spacious warehouse environment was surprisingly warm and inviting, and the decibel level was sufficiently low to allow for actual conversation -- a huge plus from our vantage point.
From talking to the executives in charge of the evening we gathered that this Addys format will be the template for a local awards show for the foreseeable future, unless some group comes up with a better idea that is fundable and can be executed without undue complication.
We'll say this much for the folks that put on this 2011 Chicago Addy Awards event. They actually did an awards event, and they kept the focus exactly where it should be -- on the work and a simple, unfussy reception to honor the winners and celebrate the Chicago advertising community.