Area advertising products judged at competition over weekend

John Kreicbergs looks over entries while judging the American Advertising Awards local competition Saturday at Southeast Missouri State University. (Glenn Landberg)

Three advertising professionals from Missouri and Nebraska spent about 10 hours Saturday judging the annual Tri-State and Jonesboro, Arkansas, Advertising and Marketing Professionals best advertising in the tri-state area competition. And by 3 p.m. that day, their spirits were still high.

The three judges were chosen by Tri-State AMP to pick the best products of more than 300 submitted for the American Advertising Awards competition.

J. Chambers takes notes while judging the American Advertising Awards local competition Saturday at Southeast Missouri State University. (Glenn Landberg)

This was the first step of three rounds for the advertising products. Both student and professional work is judged, and there are three mediums for which products can be submitted: broadcast and TV, digital and print. By entering, advertisers have the opportunity for their products to succeed in the regional and then national level.

"It's a really good chance for advertisers to get in, because we're a fairly small market and we're not a huge club," treasurer Emily Blattel explained. "So you don't even have that much competition to get to the next level. And we've had several that have won at the regional or district levels and then go on to nationals."

The local American Advertising Awards competition is the first step in the American Advertising Federation annual competition in which 40,000 advertising entries are submitted in hopes of winning a coveted ADDY.

One hundred twenty-three professional pieces from the Jonesboro area were submitted for judging along with 45 student pieces.

Between the two advertising groups, nearly 40 awards will be presented at an annual awards banquet in February.

Winners of the local AA Awards are eligible to compete in the second level of the three-tiered American Advertising Awards Competition.

The Tri-State AMP's website touts the three-tiered national American Advertising Awards -- with 40,000 entries overall -- as the advertising industry's largest and most representative competition.

A few of the things the judges were looking for were if a product was appropriate for their client; if one medium of advertising could be easily transferable to another medium; and if the pieces had their own identities, and not just built from a template.

J. Chambers looks over entries while judging the American Advertising Awards local competition Saturday at Southeast Missouri State University. (Glenn Landberg)

The most experienced of the judges, Dave Webster, is from Omaha, Nebraska, and is the principal/creative director of Webster Designs in Omaha. He has been working in advertising for more than 30 years and has worked with many of these types of competitions.

"The judges typically come from different backgrounds, different ages, different specialties and different areas -- and what's really interesting, that I found with these particular judges, is how much synergy we have," Webster said. "When we're looking at the pieces and vote independently from what the other person is doing, and we look at the compilation, everybody really is on the same page, so quality really does stand out."

Webster said appropriateness is what is most important to him, though it can sometimes be hard to pinpoint just looking at the advertising pieces and not knowing the history of the client. Another tricky aspect he noted was that sometimes appropriate isn't always visually appealing, so there's a delicate balance to creating the perfect product.

Another judge, John Kreicbergs, is from Kansas City, Missouri, and is the president of Kid Rocket Studios, the general manager of P3 Apps and a partner and co-founder of RKO workshop. All three work strongly with digital media, advertising and marketing.

Kreicbergs classifies himself as a "digital creative," which is the work he is most familiar with.

"I'm always looking for the integration of all that work [digital, print and broadcast], an idea that can carry over into multiple mediums and work well in those multiple mediums. So it's not just the idea of a single ad or a single piece. ... I love to see when an idea can just go everywhere. Because that's when you know you're really hitting on something with the audience, that it's going to resonate and accomplish what it is meaning to accomplish."

Kreicbergs specified that a piece can be artistic, but it still has to promote something.

The third judge, J. Chambers, works with Rodgers Townsend, a full-service advertising agency in St. Louis. And when it comes to writing, advertising, marketing and music, he says he's done it all.

Chambers began his career as a musician, then slowly evolved into the advertising guru he is today, and for him, a piece is all about its attitude.

"One of the key elements for me is just execution, and some of that comes with experience and some of it comes from just your sensibility, sense of style, taste. So I always look for that, too," Chambers said. "Even if an idea isn't executed really, really well, if there's an idea there, you should still be able to see it. What will really make it spring to life and communicate to the best of its ability is if the execution is as flawless as the writing and the art direction, and the idea is solid."

The number of winners chosen depends on the number of entries, so it varies from year to year. The winners of Tri-State AMP American Advertising Awards of 2015 will be announced Feb. 20, and they will move on to the next round.