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Man About Town

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We're smack-dab in the middle of the entertainment industry's awards season. Lord help us. What used to be a special occasion a few nights a year has bloated to include self-congratulatory rituals practically every week.

The same could be said for our industry. When I was Baby About Town at Chiat/Day in the mid-'80s, I remember how exciting the Beldings were. People actually wanted to go! I recall the thrill of camaraderie, of loudly cheering our co-workers as they approached the dais to collect their loot.

But now you can barely open your mail without getting another call for entries, gala invitation or "Save the Date" card for a conference. Don't get me wrong. I'm not calling for a boycott. Far from it.

The current economic "correction" gives us a chance to really winnow the wheat from the chaff. Cutting "nonessential expenses" probably means the days of jetting off to every conceivable industry get-together are over. (If they existed at all.)

Simply put, we need to throw our support behind well-run, exceptional programs and turn a cold shoulder to profit-making machines more interested in collecting our dollars than in delivering on their promises.

Jane Newman used to say if you were going to do something, you should be "in for a penny and in for a pound." Bingo.

Take awards shows. The cost and effort of even delivering submissions requires that agencies genuinely believe in the awards' value. Nothing like a Gold Lion from Cannes, eh? But why not enter only the work you think has a chance? Same goes for The One Show, the Kelly Awards, etc.

The Effies hold a special place in many hearts because you can kill two birds with one stone: salute your best creative and strategic work and your ability to effect meaningful results for clients. (I wouldn't bother with the byzantine admissions process if I didn't have some incredible results to crow about. Know what I mean?)

I do have a bone to pick with the Cannes folks, though. I missed what would have been my first trip to the Riviera last year, so I was very excited about the New York show that followed. Not for long. For $300, I would have preferred a video/catalogue of the best work. The cheerleading for George Bush that came from the stage and the lame dinner that followed? Ugh.

As for conferences, I've been to my share, but I'm still not quite fabulous enough to join the 4A's in Naples next month. Whoo-boy, I wish I were. They have some excellent speakers (disclaimer: half of them are former bosses), but each day ends with ... rigorous golf and tennis tournaments. Hmmmm.

I'm most involved with the APG conference (and worked to great success with the 4A's last year), but I'm forbidden to use this forum to plug attendance. Still, I gotta tell you, our days are action-packed, our brutal schedules filled with speeches and all-afternoon breakout sessions. Nights are just as jammed: That's the only time left for festivities.

As for me, I've cut back my APG chores this year, but will be helping with what I do best. Yes, it may involve nude showgirls on ice! Hell, it's in Vegas!