Exclusive: Jeff Goodby’s ANDY’s Diary

By Kiran Aditham 

We were informed a couple of weeks back that following International ANDY’s final judging, some of those who took part would be glad to share their experiences from Scrub Island in the British Virgin Islands. Lo and behold, we were offered Jeff Goodby as our exclusive “diarist” (apparently, he requested it). So, without further ado, we bring you this ANDY’s anecdote, an AgencySpy exclusive, from the GS&P namesake. Update: Last part of the piece was left out originally, sorry about that. Jeff’s full article below and after the jump….

It’s Agency Spy, so I’m starting with the news that one of the key judges was soundly clocked with a massive case of diarrhea all week.  You had to feel for the guy.  It was all anybody talked to him about.  How is it?  Still got it?  Is it the kind where it’s hard to walk?  Jesus.

There is much talk about the “preliminary judging,” a toxic task sent out to the judges weeks ahead of our actual time together in person.  I estimated that judges were handed about six days’ worth of “preliminary judging.”  Huge work load.  Like a second career.


You would think that the judging this past week would weigh things heavily toward youngish stunts and digital creations, but the show was, in the end, very much about campaigns based on TV commercials.  Two in particular:  Old Spice, of course, and probably also of course, Dos Equis’ World’s Most Incredible Man.

When you watch the two of them over and over – and believe me, I did – you realize a couple things.  First, it is going to be harder to take Old Spice forward, I think, because the device used in the original spot – that continuous shot with lots of stuff going on – is hard to top each time.  It’s truly engaging and brilliant.  Subsequent spots in the campaign suffer a little in its shadow, and were maybe liked a little too much.

The online production event, wherein 70-something custom spots were created in a day were terrific.  But despite the wide exposure of the stunt, it was just that – a single day event.

The Incredible Man is quite the opposite.  It’s a bunch of commercials, too, but a campaign format that still shines after two years, with a wholly new team creating the work.  You would love to get assigned to this account, because the field just seems to get wider.  You’re not topping so much as moving a bit sideways each time.  I love this stuff.

As the judging begins, the delightful Jimmy Smith is the only one who seems to notice that we have electronic buttons for gold, silver, and bronze, but no button for “nothing.”  It becomes important to have a button for nothing.

A few random observations:

*  The print work in the world today is horrible.  We should all be ashamed.  What there is often feels a bit fakey or at least, small.  I found myself lapsing into loving the Photoshop craft work and typography rather than the ideas.  Award entry Photoshop work may be one of the great strides forward for our civilization at this point in time.

*  I do love that long Nike World Cup film, despite the fact that all the athletes in it got hurt or played like shit.

*  There is a spot in the show – for AT&T maybe? — that shows a cop taking away the soccer ball of some kids in an African square.  OMG, lo and behold, the kids merely continue playing with a PRETEND soccer ball.  The spot becomes forever referred to as “the spot for the invisible soccer ball product.”

As you may have noticed, a lot of the things I have mentioned so far are rather traditional media.  I personally think we may have given rather short shrift to big thinking in other directions such as:

*  What I thought was the biggest, most game-changing idea of the whole show, going forward, was the notion of selling your Tweets in exchange for a free product.  It was first created by a couple of German fellows to promote their book, of course which you received free, if you Tweeted about it.  This kind of thing will be all around us soon, I think, because it turns Twitters into a new medium with reach and frequency like a TV network.
Some judges thought it was immoral or spam-like, but I think it will instead be self-regulating.  People won’t trash their followers because the followers won’t want to be followers any more.
This idea is BIG.

*  An Electrolux innovation actually recycled plastic from that disturbing swirl of cat litter bag plastic in the South Pacific.  They made vacuums from the stuff.  They’re lovely.  You’d buy one.  It’s brilliant.

*  The Jay-Z “Decoder” thing, in which all the pages of his new bio book were positioned in appropriate places on the real and electronic landscape is gorgeous thinking and a real, moving campaign.  Not necessarily appreciated by all, I don’t think.

*  The “web film problem” comes up again.  It was good of us to award them when they were a brand new BMW Films thing.  Now, even if the films are terrific, you have to wonder whether we should be honoring that mechanism so highly any more.  This is not a film festival.  That said, a set of web films called “Burn” for a Coke energy drink are probably the best I’ve ever seen.

*  The “yeah, but who really made it?” problem comes up again.  That Watson computer from IBM is fascinating, the advertising is just kind of okay, and everyone is left wondering whether the agency should be rewarded for something that is essentially an amazing engineering feat.

The Electrolux idea brings up the same question.  Who really thought of it?  Same with Google’s engaging “Wilderness Downtown,” which was a positive RAGE when it first came out.  Everyone downloaded Chrome, right?  We suss out that it was kind of a combo thing, with half the idea coming from marketing, and half from engineering.
Nothing is simple anymore.

*  There are a lot of electronic media ideas that are pretty tortured in their plan.  Gerry Graf keeps saying stuff to me like: “No one would ever DO that.  You’d just walk over and TALK to the girl without registering on Facebook or using an app.  THIS IS NOT THE WAY HUMANS WORK.”

*  By the way, Gerry’s hilarious public service piece in favor of gay marriage is one of the things you DON’T actually mind seeing over and over.  It’s on the Huffington Post, if you haven’t checked it out yet.

*  A few scatological entries stand out, not necessarily in a good way.  There is a series of seeming casting sessions in which women are told to pornographically interact with phallic vegetables.  They sure do.
It’s for PETA.  In favor of vegetarianism, you see.

Another campaign features almost exactly the same sexy semi-naked women reciting Shakespeare, really badly.  A line comes up that says something like “It’s not about the acting.”  It’s for a porn channel.

And then there is a call to entries for AWARD, the Australian show, which features a nebbishy sort of guy being made “cool enough” for the show.  He learns to dance charmingly in one bit, but loses all good will in another when he has his entire body graphically waxed by a rather disturbing older woman in a single light bulb kind of room.  If you’re thinking of “Borat,” you’re getting warm.  But it’s not nearly as funny.

All in all, a good show, not a great one, this year, I thought.  Judging awards shows is often obfuscated by too many confusing categories.  But it’s not going to change anytime soon.

Why don’t we do away with categories altogether and just rate the best of the best?  Call ‘em as we see ‘em.  There’d be a list of gold, a list of silver, and a list of bronze.  Print would sit side by side with Internet and radio and TV.

I endeavored to float the idea with a few of the ANDYs people, and they seemed open to it.  But they may have been just humoring me.

And no, the judge with diarrhea wasn’t me.