Schwartz Sees Bigger, Better Beldings

LOS ANGELES The Belding Awards are considering an expansion beyond Los Angeles, even West Coast wide, according to Rob Schwartz, chairman of tonight’s showcase at the Annex at Hollywood and Highland.

“The show is good, but it deserves to be great,” said Schwartz, executive creative director at Omnicom Group’s TBWA\Chiat\Day, Playa del Rey, Calif. “Certainly, California deserves its own show, as New York has its own New York-centric shows. I would even consider expanding up the coast. Imagine the Los Angeles agencies competing against Goodby [Silverstein & Partners] and Wieden [+ Kennedy]. My goal is to put the Beldings in the pantheon of all shows.”

At the 39th annual Ad Club of Los Angeles-sponsored event, Schwartz’s team will premiere a new format, a gallery-style show, where work will be divided by media with winning print hung from the rafters and broadcast looping continually on monitors. “What guided us is the reverence for the work,” Schwartz said. “Instead of slapping it up on a screen, we’re presenting it so that if people really want to see what made the work terrific and why the judges voted for it, they can.”

Schwartz acknowledged that last year’s show at the House of Blues [Adweek Online, May 13, 2004] had “a lot of pomp and theatrics, but it was less about a celebration of the work. That’s a mea culpa with an emphasis on me,” Schwartz said. “I tried to heighten the theatrics by bringing in the advertising icons to make it a more fun and memorable show.”

Still, the local ad community responded to the heightened profile of the show. This year’s Beldings may have set an all-time record for agency participation, with 81 different shops submitting work. Judges represented all regions of the country: Rob Rich, Publicis in Seattle; Jim Ferguson, TM Advertising, Irving, Texas; Tom Cordner, JWT, Detroit; Greg Ketchum, Ogilvy & Mather, New York; Philip Squire, Arnold Worldwide, Boston; and Franklin Tipton, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Miami.

“The strong work that comes out of this part of the world has national implications,” said Schwartz. “It deserves to be recognized.”

Wolfgang Puck is catering the event. The musical act, courtesy of Ten Music, Santa Monica, Calif., will be The Helio Sequence. The after-party at Cinespace (organized by Ten and Inside/Out) will feature the DJ Ursula 1000.