November 9, 2021 / CPOVs

I judged the Campaign US Big Awards – Here’s what I noticed

Clark Shepard, Senior Copywriter

I was recently granted the great honor of judging the inaugural Campaign US Big Awards. The judges, as they phrased it, were comprised of the “next generation” of creative voices in advertising.” The people who are supposed to have their pencils on the pulse of what’s cool – and what’s soon-to-be cool. It was gratifying, and equal parts humbling, to be able to sit in with writers and designers from around the country as we dissected the very best work our industry produced in the past year. I came away with some friends, an invite to a catered event in NYC (forever here for free food), and insights. So many insights. Here’s a few of my hand-picked favorites. 

Digital is hot, but print will never die. 

It’s easy to get caught up in the maelstrom of social activations, hashtag movements and, dare I say, viral tweets, but let us not forget the paper matriarch who paved the way for all of it. Perhaps my favorite ad I voted on this year was simple in its execution, and brilliant in its message. 

You booked Brad Pitt for a commercial, so what?

As someone who has never worked on a campaign with a $20 million dollar ad spend, I can say this with conviction: We need to celebrate creative problem solving as loudly as we celebrate Super Bowl ads. The creative thinking required to put out award winning, needle moving work that 1) isn’t aided by a multi-million dollar budget and 2) doesn’t need a celebrity cameo to make noise is what will always impress me the most. 

Don’t be anti-social. Even though it’s hard. 

There’s a metric ton of platforms at our disposal these days. That’s not changing anytime soon. In fact, the only thing that is inevitable is that by the time our industry has completely caught up to Tik Tok, it will be replaced by something else. This thought scares a lot of people in our industry to not even try to master these tools. Resist that urge, friends. Jump in with both feet. Ride the wave. Try and fail. And fail and fail and fail. Because the more you actively fail, the closer you’ll get to striking gold. It probably won’t make sense when it happens, so don’t try to make too much sense of it along the way. Remember, our job as creatives isn’t merely to make the stuff. Our job is to experience the world – and sometimes the world is a Tik Tok dance. You laugh, but no one’s laughing harder than Applebee’s right now. 

So, what can we learn from all this? Here’s my take: there have never been more platforms for us to tell stories on behalf of our clients. It’s all a little scary if you pause to think about it. So don’t pause. Keep learning new tools, keep studying your peers, keep living your lives (and taking notes). Oh, and if you get asked to judge an award show, do it. Your work will be all the better for it.  

Learn more about Clark and the Campaign US Big Awards here: