"...And Make It Real Creative!": "ODDY, Isn't It?"

by Andy Capp

It was 12 years and 2 stations ago, but I still remember the exact moment when I snapped. As Operations Manager and unofficial Production Director at the time, I was perpetually swamped, but this particular day the quicksand that was in my workload had me dragged down to the eyebrows.

It was at that moment, when I knew my day couldn't possibly suck any more...it did. A rookie salesperson, oblivious to the on-air light over the production room door, exploded into the room just as I was five words away from the perfect read on copy that had already taken 13 more takes than it should have.

Before I had a chance to loudly explain her mistake, or even get out the "Da" in "Damn!," the intruder was spilling her guts.

"Flowershop...my biggest account...Grandparents Day this weekend...I know it's 5:35 Friday afternoon, but they wanna start running heavy tomorrow...I've gotta have a real creative spot to play them in an hour!!!!!!!"

Funny thing about life, there are so many options. At that moment, I could have screamed, laughed, cried, ignored, revolted, vomited...so many options. I chose to snap.

Now this was not your run of the mill "feed-him-a-Thorazine-and-toss-him-in-a-rubber-room" type of snapping. No, that would never do! This insanity had a purpose, a goal, an objective I could never achieve in a straitjacket! So, call me crazy (I was), but I looked the little weasel in the eye, smiled, and said, "I'll get right on it!"

As the hour went by, I did indeed get right on it. You know, it's amazing how going loony can focus your energy. Long before the offending rep had a chance to interrupt another take, I was ready.

Twelve minutes shy of the hour, Desperation made her entrance, complete with a "gee-I-forgot-to-mention-I-need-a-cassette" expression on her face. Smiling again, I reached over and began playback of my creation. Now keep in mind that all I had to work with was Grandparents Day and a flower shop. No special bouquets, nothing. So I made up my own bouquet.

Her next expression told me two things. First, she hadn't really expected a commercial for the "I Wish You Were Dead" bouquet. Second, she honestly believed this was the ad I expected her to play the client! I enjoyed the victory a minute or two more, then gave her the real spot.

It was one of those childish pranks that can take the edge off the day (and give you a reputation among the salesfolk as a butthead), but I wondered if someday the bogus ad might really find a home.

Let's move ahead 12 years and two stations. Our Sales Manager at KELO is the President of the South Dakota Advertising Federation. He tells me the group has a fundraiser coming up that I might want to be a part of. As he described the Oddy awards, I knew my ad had found a home.

From what I've been told, the idea of sending up the Addys with the Oddys came from Rick DeJulio, past chairman of the council of Governors of the American Advertising Federation. Apparently, Rick and his cohorts in McAllen, Texas have had two or three of these "awards ceremonies," open to anyone with any silly, sick, obscene, or otherwise twisted advertising piece to enter.

In our case, the Oddys were designed to be a combination fundraiser/party for the South Dakota Ad Fed. On the fundraising side of things, the proceeds of the entry fees and dinner went to the Ad Fed scholarship fund for advertising majors at our state universities. In fact, some of those students became our judges. On the party side, the Oddys were an alternative to our usually formal (read: stuffy) Addy awards--a chance for advertising people from all media to let their hair down and share any off-beat, off-color, way out there advertising that would normally never see the light of day past their own offices. The awards were broken down by media and by real ads for real clients, fake ads for real clients, and fake ads for fake clients.

Complete with cracked carnival games, a bizarre buffet, and truly tacky trophies, our first annual Oddy awards ceremony was a pretty goofy soiree, but in many ways more valuable than it seemed on the surface.

Because the event was kept very informal, people really did loosen up and get to know each other better, something that never seems to happen at something as "important" as the Addy award ceremony. Because of this, several new creative relationships have already been formed (although, all that v/o work I expected has yet to materialize...).

It was also nice to see some of the "lesser players" get some recognition. In one case, a young man who works more or less as a gopher at a local agency came up with a wickedly creative radio ad that gave him a chance to shine and show his stuff to a group that could help advance his career. Even those of us in local radio and TV, usually considered "second-rate" by the advertising community at large, did our own bit of "shining."

All in all, the Oddys became a great equalizer. By the end of the night, we all came to realize that there are very few differences between us. Whether in audio, video, print, or a combination thereof, we all share the fun and frustrations a job in creative media throws at us. We also realized that when those frustrations keep slapping you in the face till you're raw, a creative balm like making fun of the business can take some of the sting away, especially when there's a chance to be rewarded for it. We also found out that many people in the advertising business like to drink their body weight and sing obscure kareokee songs, but that's another story....

Personally, it was a great night. The "I Wish You Were Dead Bouquet" ad won best of radio. I received an old golf trophy with the club replaced by a bamboo umbrella and the word "Oddy" hand-Crayoned over the plaque. More importantly, I received one final laugh from a joke I started just to blow of steam on an impossibly busy day 12 years ago. That, my friends, is true personal creative satisfaction!

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