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The 2007 Bessies

Posted on May 11, 2007 and read 4,557 times

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The Television Bureau of Canada must have some psychics or long-range meteorologists on staff these days. It’s the only way they could’ve predicted that 2007 would be a great year to bring The Bessies, the award show honouring the best in Canadian television advertising, back to Sheraton Centre Hotel after a few years at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Sure, the Convention Centre is spacious, but it’s also about fifteen stories underground, far from the fresh air and sunlight that makes the Sheraton Centre and its beautiful courtyard a wonderful venue for award shows and springtime post-show drinks.

But that’s getting ahead of things. Before we get to the post-Bessie festivities, we must get through the pre-Bessies festivities and of course the Bessies themselves.

The morning begins with plenty of coffee and plenty of fantastic ads and other film samples from around the world, as part of the Boards Director’s Showcase. At that hour of day, the audience is small, made up of keen production people and ad fanatics. The work we are treated to is phenomenal; this isn’t like that DVD your art director got the other week from a local production house, but rather the best work from the best directors on the planet. Looking around the room, I noticed more than a few people jotting down the names of directors that piqued their interest.

Following the Directors Showcase was a screening of some of the highlights of the latest London International Awards, presented by the folks at AdCam. There were a lot of great spots in this reel, and it made me wonder how the Canadian work to be awarded this afternoon would stand up to these global gems. Unfortunately Canadian television has taken a bit of a beating at the international award shows over the past few years, and most everyone was hoping for a reversal of fortune. As if in response to the London reel, we were given a sneak peek of some of the finalists for the Bessies, and personally I thought that the work was better than last year’s, when compared to the international competition.

But before we could get on with the Bessies proper, we broke for a cocktail reception in the foyer, hosted by our good friends over at Soho and Rogue. Let me tell you, nothing brings in the crowds like an open bar at 11:30 in the morning.

The Bessies have changed year after year, in terms of its presentation. Two years ago, it took the form of a Broadway musical; last year, a tabloid talk show. No matter the format, one of the biggest complaints over the years (and certainly not a complaint exclusive to The Bessies) has been how long the show goes on for. Speech after speech, repetition of ads that win multiple awards, presentations and sketches all wreak havoc on limited attention span of the average advertising creative. That problem was most definitely remedied by Judy John, Managing Partner, Chief Creative Officer of Leo Burnett and chair of the 2007 Bessies. This year’s theme was ‘BES: It’s the Bessies, only shorter.’

True to their word, this year’s edition of the Bessies was truncated to the bare essentials. Some of the smaller awards were presented in between lunch courses, such as this year’s Walter Bell Memorial Award, awarded to Ryerson student Joel Kesler. And when the finalists and golds were announced, fast, fast, fast was the order of the day. Every spot received their moment in the sun, but speeches from the winners were almost completely eliminated. I think the longest speech was probably twelve seconds. Beat that Oscars!

There was an exception made to the ‘seven words or less’ rule when the 2007 Spiess Award was presented. The Spiess Award is presented each year to an individual who has furthered excellence in television over the course of several years. This year the prestigious accolade was presented to Paul Lavoie, Chairman/Chief Creative Officer of Taxi. In a video presentation by his peers and Taxi colleagues, Lavoie was hailed for his many MANY contributions to the business. But in keeping in the spirit of the show, Paul took to the stage and kept his speech short and sweet, and told everyone that even though he currently resides in New York, he’s a proud Canadian, and trumpets the work of our country whenever he can.

So who ended up winning the show? There were eight golds awarded in the singles category to agencies such as Ogilvy & Mather, Dentsu, Cossette, DraftFCB, Rethink, Taxi and Spring Advertising. Over in the campaign category, only three golds were awarded, to Cossette, Taxi and Rethink. Numerous Craft awards were presented, as well as Best of Series awards. But in the end, Best of Show Campaign went to Cossette for their ‘Looking for a Fight’ campaign for the Fight Network. As for Best of Show Single… come on, do we really have to tell you this one? A well-deserved Best of Show went to Ogilvy’s juggernaut, ‘Evolution.’

Total time of the award show section of the 2007 Bessies: A mere 55 minutes.

After the show, everybody retreated to the aforementioned courtyard for an unseasonably warm open-air champagne reception provided by Bell Canada Sympatico. With more alcoholic delights and a live band, the post-Bessies celebration easily lasted twice as long as the Bessies themselves.

Then of course there were the POST-post-Bessies celebrations, which extended the party well into the evening. The gang over at the Radke Film Group, including Steam, Soft Citizen, OPC, and Vapor Music had a huge celebration over at The Social. With Scott Mackenzie, Executive Producer of Radke and past Bessie judge, greeted people at the door and kept thirsts quenched, while a DJ spun everything from old school hip-hop and dancehall reggae to latest tunes. Any party where they can get a ton of people on the dance floor is a great one in my book.

Crush Inc. and their partners also had a party a few doors down at The Drake, but unfortunately, they were very selective over who they let in; ihaveanidea business cards don’t have the cache of a dog tag. Ah well, back to the Social!

For being the shortest award show in Bessies history, it ended up being a very long and exciting day. Congratulations to all the winners, and thanks to the Television Bureau of Canada for inviting us for the ride.

Here’s to seeing if the success of this year’s show will mean that next year’s will be shaved down to twenty minutes.

Brett McKenzie
Chief Writer/SBN2




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