Saatchi Salutes Latest Inventions

They don’t seem like a boon to advertising, but you never know

Saatchi & Saatchi spotlighted world-class ideas at its third Innovation in Communication Award ceremony last Tuesday night—everything from computerized glasses that help the blind see to the grand-prize winner: a multi-diode lamp that produces cheap lighting for the developing world.

Eleven finalists displayed their submissions on a row of flat-screen TVs that lined a white wall of a gallery in Manhattan’s SoHo district. Inventors, judges, agency staffers and honchos including Saatchi worldwide CEO Kevin Roberts and worldwide creative director Bob Isherwood milled about, gabbed and sipped wine before converging in a large room for the ceremony. After a video highlighting each finalist’s idea, Roberts sardonically suggested other uses for the inventions. “Get the guy with the brain switch into our creative department straight away,” he said, to a smattering of laughter. “We’ll get the guy with the paraplegic to help the account people,” he added, earning some howls before concluding, “And of course, the blind guy for the clients!”

The grand-prize winner, Dr. Dave Irvine-Halliday of Calgary, Canada, a 50-something gent in a kilt, will get a $50,000 cash grant and marketing help from Saatchi for his charitable foundation. He took his time thanking the agency in an emotional speech. Of the award, he told his fellow finalists, “I really do feel guilty. But I’m not giving it back!”