The judges of the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A's) 2012 Strategy Festival's Jay Chiat Awards met often and early to determine which of 12 Gold Award winners in eight categories would walk away with best-in-show Grand Prix honors.
But history – specifically, the 2011 Chiat Awards – complicated that task.
"These awards honor the best strategic thinking in the world," explained Ed Cotton, the 2012 Strat Fest Chairman (and in his day job the Director of Strategy at agency Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners). And he continued, the winners of the 2011 competition – Puma's 'Joy of Sport' campaign (agency: Droga5) and the powerful 'Operation Christmas' program created by Lowe SSP3 Bogota to demobilize Colombian FARC guerrillas "set a very high bar," said Cotton.
"As a group, we felt that there wasn't anything quite up to those standards."
That said, agency R/GA took home Gold in three of the 10 Strat Fest categories – Creative Technology, Idea for New Product/Campaign, and Innovative Design – an unprecedented accomplishment in the Chiat competition.
"We realize this decision will be controversial," Cotton said. "But [the judges] looked at the positive side of their choice: it's a rallying cry to look at the potential and opportunities of strategy and planning."
He continued: "We're accepting 'good enough' way too easily. We need to go back to really challenging ourselves… [and show] massive transformative thinking that changes businesses. And we need to start taking risks to do that."
More information on the winners can be found in Warc's news coverage.