It’s tough being judges 

When my boss was given a task to judge a local award show from another country, he invited another creative directors and group heads (including the freelance one, how generous of him) to join him in the judging session. He thought more fresh eyes would help, and at the same time it gave us the new experience being the judge of other people’s works.


Beside, there were also free pizzas so it was pretty cool.

Unlike the One Show award show judging I put as illustration above, we sat there inside the CD room, facing a large monitor, brought nothing but our eyes and minds. First thing we have to do was look through all the works based on categories. And say “in” or “out”. “In” if we feel it deserves something, “out” is well.. out. Then we look through all the “in” ones again, to decide if the works deserve finalist, bronze, silver, or even gold. We voted by raising hand to stand our point.

The process took about 2 hours (thank God it was only 56 entries, compared to 3000 entries my boss judged in the last ADOI award) and it was tiring. Until then, I had always seen award shows from the glamourous side, and envy those judges who sat there in their own special chairs, had done the judging session inside the most expensive hotels with cool swimming pools and booze and expensive sun glasses but anyway… One thing I realized now, being a judge is TOUGH.

It’s tough to be mean. Seriously, these works are other people’s babies. I can imagine the art directors staying several nights crafting the layout, supervising the photo shoot and digital imaging process by holding on to the words from his/her creative director “this can win something in the next award show”. It’s also has something to do with the good karma, I guess. You will never want your own works to be treated with disrespect.

It’s tough to be nice. Aside from the ideas or even the crafting, one thing I noticed that how important it is to present your work. A few years ago, our agency got negative comment from some judges in a local award show because we printed our work more decent compare to others. But hey, it’s a beauty show, and beauty queens sure want to look their best when being judged, right? How to present your ideas is another crafting you have to do before entering any award show. It’s simple, if they don’t get your idea, they won’t buy it no matter how good it is.

It’s tough to fight for your believe. Imagine you’re sitting next to big names like David Droga, or Yasmin Ahmad, and you heard them sigh impatiently and yell “OUT” on the first place, when you’re about to say “IN”. Omg, what to do? I don’t want to look stupid in front of them but how if I really really like the piece? Worst, how if it was MY piece and I believe in it and I have to influence them to vote for it? In this case, it matters to have ego to boost your confidence so you can stand on what you believe. Of course it’s easier said than done. Because I don’t think I am capable yet to do any of that.

It’s tough to be fair when you’re tired. First round when your eyes and minds were still fresh, it was okay. Some judges are known as the good police, when they gives a lot of opportunities in the beginning. But even the nicest judges get tired, and when they’re tired, they can be very mean. Now I understand why Khai said award shows are pretty much like lottery games. But only if your works really really good, then it will raise to the top like the creamy bubble on top of the beer.

So before the the glamourous award night and getting wasted in the after parties, it is tough to be judges. I raise my glass to all the good award shows judges out there. You simply deserve the luxurious hotels and all that.

When I had the one time opportunity to go to Pattaya and see AdFest several years ago, my former group head thought me this little geeky game which was pretty fun. We had two days to see all the work entries being displayed in the largest labyrinth walls I’ve ever seen. It was hundreds of print and outdoor works. All the tv works were being played in a small cinema next to the huge labyrinth. I spent the whole two days checking out all the print and outdoor entries and putting my own votes in my own little note book, pretending I was one of the judges. The day of the winner announcement, I cross checked my vote with the results. Of course, I missed a lot, but still… it was fun.