Go North Young Man

Silver, Andy and Melanie judging the Mid-Michigan Addy Awards.


Heeding the call to judge the Addys of the great wild north.

Every creative loves awards, and you should gird your loins around those who say they don’t. They’re a fantastic measuring stick for the high standard of quality we toil over day to day. Its icing on the cake that when they’re recognized by peers in the industry. But, far less creatives, love judging award shows. This is where I’m cut from a different cloth.

Award shows, especially hyper local ones, have a reputation for fewer entries we’d call killer by standards set by The One Show, CA and the like. Its hard to argue that stuff coming out of Little Rock or Cheboygan could ever compete with work produced in larger markets by larger agencies. This is where I want to prove that notion utterly wrong.  I have been trying to do so for the last 10 years or so making my way around the local Addy judging circuit.
Often, I leave a judging weekend super impressed with creative efforts emerging from markets you wouldn’t consider perennial advertising powerhouses or even sesquicentennial powerhouses. That’s the beauty of what we do, no matter where you are, or what agency you call home, the originality of an idea transcends regionality and agency size.
Over a month ago, I had the pleasure of joining Andy Azula, Executive Creative Director of The Martin Agency, and Melanie Weisenthal, Principal at Deerfield Design NYC, to judge the Addy awards for the Mid-Michigan Creative Alliance in Lansing, Michigan. We met the entrants in a casual Q&A session at a local brewery the night before judging. One of the big themes addressed regionality as a measurement for creative worth.
My argument reinforced that great thinking can exist anywhere. It doesn’t matter that agencies in smaller markets don’t have armies of retouchers, or the deep pockets of a global holding company. In fact,  creativity often flourishes when given a small sandbox to play in. Limits force you to be more creative and arrive at solutions with less tools available. In Michigan, we judged some of the best design work I’ve seen in any advertising annual or show.
Its markets like this that force every creative to adopt a pioneer  attitude to work. They make the work  and they demand nothing but the best because they are the ones on the frontier. The next time you find yourself in Duluth or Sioux Falls, search for the local shops carving out their own paths in the advertising landscape. The work is wild.