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The Bessies 2011

Posted on May 21, 2011 and read 3,140 times

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brettcreditpic The Bessies 2011Brett McKenzie
Chief Writer, SBN2
ihaveanidea


The Canadian advertising industry has many regional award shows within its vast borders; there are the Lotus Awards for those on the west coast, the Ice Awards for those in the Maritimes, cowboy Calgary hands out Anvils at its Ad Rodeo, and Quebec hosts the Crea Awards chaque année.

But the biggest and boldest award shows in Canada, the national ones are all held in Toronto. I’ve had the opportunity to attend them all over the years,  and while each one has its quirks, my personal favorite has always been the Bessies, the show honouring the best in Canadian television (and now online video) advertising. One, it has almost always been an afternoon show, and it’s nice to have drinks in your hand during an hour that you’d normally be in the office, and two, for whatever reason, no matter what the weather has been like in the days leading up to the Bessies, the day itself has always been gorgeous.

And there’s nothing like sticking to tradition.

Prior to the 2011 Bessies, the city of Toronto had seen nine uninterrupted days of overcast skies and rain, at times torrential. Even the morning of the show looked a bit on the gloomy side. By noon however, the Television Marketing Bureau of Canada made whatever ritual sacrifice they make every year, and the sun came bursting through the clouds. This certainly brightened the mood in the glass enclosed reception area of the Royal Conservatory of Music, home of this year’s Bessies. The crowd was in good spirits, and many drifted out to the patio overlooking the suddenly rejuvenated park. Yep, the Bessies were bringing spring back like Mr. Timberlake and sexy.

When the guests could be pried away from their socializing and drinking, everyone filed into the auditorium for the show. After opening remarks from the hosts, including Bessies 2011 Jury Chair and Zi- I mean CP+B Canada ECD Aaron Starkman, we were treated to a short keynote presentation by the P in CP+B, Chuck Porter. Was television dead? (no) Did awards matter? (yes) Did success at one show or in one region guarantee success in another? (no) Could small creative successes lead to big rewards? (yes) All of Chuck’s points were wrapped around the old Crispin mystique, and were highlighted by TV ads that stretched back to the legendary agency’s early days.

As for the show itself, even with rain disappearing it was certainly a great day to be under the Omnicom umbrella. Best in Show – Single went to new-to-the-Canuck-scene Red Urban for “Super Sexy Heimlich” a decidedly suggestive spot for Fortnight Lingerie. The ad also took home Gold in the Online Single category.


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Best in Show for Campaigns went across the country to DDB Canada‘s Vancouver office for their latest salvo in their long running and highly awarded work for the BC Dairy Foundation. The ads are part of an integrated effort for The Weak Shop, a store featuring (presumably) fake products for people who aren’t drinking enough milk.


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The Weak Shop campaign was also awarded Gold for TV Campaigns, while “Chair Pants” won a Gold for TV Single and “Food Lift: was a finalist in the same category.

DDB’s Toronto office was also victorious, winning Gold — Integrated Campaign, as well as Best of Series — Directing and Craft awards for directors Chris Woods and Jeff Low, all for Subaru Canada’s “Pure”. And to truly appreciate the magic of the spot, be sure you also watch the “Making of” along with it


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Other Gold Bessies were doled out to Red Urban (again!), Leo Burnett Toronto, BBDO Toronto, Juniper Park, TAXI2, Dare Vancouver and Cossette‘s Toronto and Vancouver offices.


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You can find all of the finalists and Craft Award recipients over at the official Bessies site, but we at ihaveanidea must acknowledge one accolade in particular, awarded not for a great TV spot or two in the past year, but a vast body of amazing work over an entire career. The Spiess Award is the highest honour bestowed at the Bessies, and it represents “continuing, consistent dedication to excellence in the art of the television commercial”. It can be presented to a cameraman, director, producer, editor, composer, art director, copywriter or an advertiser, who has “fulfilled the set out criteria of overall excellence.”

This year, this “lifetime achievement” award of sorts was presented to none other than Ogilvy Toronto‘s Co-Chief Creative Officers — and ihaveanidea’s very own ‘Jancy’ — Janet Kestin and Nancy Vonk!

Well here’s to another great year of Canadian television. We’ll see you again next May on yet another sunshine-dappled day!


Photos courtesy of Imagine Studios






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