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April 4, 2008
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Mr Experience: A total lack of 'experience'!




The marketing industry is inundated with awards ceremonies, and each individual sector has their own, but are they really celebrating the successes of those they claim to represent, or just a way of publishing companies and trade bodies milking a bit of extra cash?

This may sound contentious, and there are some very good awards out there, but a recent anonymous letter currently doing the rounds of the experiential industry, following the Field marketing and Brand Experience awards, shows that there are others that are badly failing their target audience.

While we do not agree with every sentiment within the letter, we are publishing it in full because we feel it raises valuable points that need to be addressed about awards ceremonies within our industry. We welcome any responses from our readers and indeed from those involved with the event as to whether they believe awards ceremonies have a future in our industry or whether they need to be approached in a new way.


The Letter: A total lack of ‘experience’!

Did any readers I wonder, go to the ‘Field marketing and Brand Experience awards’ on the 10th of October?

Our agency went along. We had pretty low expectations of how the event may turn out. We are admittedly rather cynical about this type of event – at worst they can be self serving and patronising in their supposed ability to be able to critically comment on a particular scene. This ceremony was a shockingly bad example, made all the more woeful as the ‘event’ itself was actually critiquing (at least in part) the world of ‘experiential marketing’ – a scene dedicated to creating lasting, positive associations through the employment of powerful experiences and events. If only the event organisers had a clue about their subject matter!

One could say that they set the tone by booking the Ibis Hotel in Earls Court, but this doesn’t go nearly far enough! Of course we expected the venue to be poor, the food to be awful, and the service to be absent (it was), despite the £180 per head ticket price. But the award ceremony that followed was completely lacking in any panache or proper planning. I have been to Christenings with more punch. The whole gig seemed to have been produced by ‘David Brent’ from BBC2’s The Office; swathed in base humour, and featuring ‘past it’ rather sad individuals who commanded little respect from the audience.

Firstly, there was the world’s quietest town crier who was employed to quieten down the rapidly inebriated crowd, and welcome the publishing editor of Frank Publishing, the man behind this debacle. Our host proceeded to thank the many (30) sponsors that had ‘made the awards possible’. Here we heard the inexcusably dull description of one of the sponsor’s attempts at bringing ‘experience’ to the awards, who apparently were offering a massage treat for up to 12 people as a prize. "But not tonight!" came the washroom double entendre, cue tumble weeds to roll past our table. The audience was left either to ponder the total lack of creativity of the sponsor (who had also unevenly hung a cheap plastic banner across the stage ) or the ‘red-top’ tone of our hosts humour. Oh dear.

We then learned that the guest speaker for the evening, the as yet unknown personality upon whom the evening’s possible redemption depended, was an elderly chap called Gavin Richards?! (I think). Gavin, we were told, does the occasional stint on a morning football show, but majors in a not very well listened to BBC radio station (sorry can’t remember which). This self proclaimed Alan Partridge ‘esque’ character (yet sadly without the humour) then proceeded to force 20 year old anecdotes from his more successful days upon us. His joke about Frank Bruno in the 80’s, that centred on Bruno getting the word ‘invincible’ and ‘invisible’ mixed up, will give you an idea of the level here. (More tumble weeds).

Just as people around us were saying that it couldn’t get any worse – it did. The Z list broadcaster now started to read a script that had been written (and we were told that he had put quite a bit of effort into it – so we had better listen!) by none other than our host! A man whose writing and public speaking experience includes managing a small and not very well known trade magazine. Never have the words boredom, excruciating and cringe-worthy been so collectively used.

What a disgrace that our industry has allowed such a travesty to become its self-proclaimed annual showcase, and worse still – a supposed bench mark!

Please somebody start a rival awards showcase soon – you would have to try very hard to do any worse I assure you. I have chosen to keep my identity confidential as sadly this awards body may have the ability to negatively affect our agency.

Sincerely,

Mr Ex
MD of an experiential agency ;-)


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