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Recently in Chicago Addy Awards Category

Douglas Fir.jpgWell 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.

Everybody ready to party? After a select committee spent more than a year supposedly trying to figure out what kind of awards show Chicago's ad industry should have, it probably surprises no one that, for now, it's going to be the tried-and-true Addy Awards format.

The Chicago Addy Awards reception is set for Thursday from 6 to 10 p.m. at Resolution Digital Studios, 2226 W. Walnut in Chicago. Organizers of the event tell us agencies submitted some 400 pieces of work for consideration, of which 92 were honored with awards. But there will be no lengthy awards ceremony tomorrow. Only the Best of Show Award will be handed out live at the reception, so everyone can focus on admiring the work and enjoying themselves.

The return to an Addy Awards format is a curious turn of events at the very least. Armchair historians may recall that discontent with the stodgy Addys was what prompted local advertising honchos to rethink things several years ago. That rethink initially led to the debut of the Chicago Creative Club Awards and the infamous bricks (creativity, you know) that were handed out. But as the Chicago ad industry started to falter, and more agencies began fighting to stay afloat, the CCC event became harder to pull off.

Finally it fell apart, even as a few brave souls tried to maintain some kind of awards show. But nothing stuck. Now the Chicago Advertising Federation, sensing nothing was in the works to replace the Chicago Creative Club concept, fell back on the familiar Addy Awards. Maybe it's all for the best. We'll know more when we see how things go Thursday. See you there.

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Lewis Lazare has written the Media Mix column for the Chicago Sun-Times for the past seven and a half years.

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