What does it take to make it onto the pages of our magazine? Getting on the Cannes Lions shortlist is easier, says editor-in-chief, Michael Weinzettl.
I was in a Skype conference recently with Fernanda Romano, the formidable Brazilian, Creative Partner at Naked, and the driving force behind the conception of our new website. If it were not for her, you wouldn't be reading this blog here (not such a grave loss, I hasten to add, but neither would there be any other of the lovely features that await you on our homepage every day).
We were talking about the difference between making it at some advertising festival and being featured in Archive. As usual Fefa immediately grasped the main difference, so obvious to us perhaps that we at Archive don't even realise it anymore: "It's bloody hard to get into Archive," she said.
Video: Honda "Grrr" by Wieden + Kennedy, London, featured in Vol. 1/2005 before winning the Cannes Film Grand Prix in 2005.
Video: Cadbury "Gorilla" by Fallon, London, featured in Vol. 1/2008 before winning the Film Grand Prix at Cannes 2008.
And of course she is right. We had a total of 25,081 submissions (9572 campaigns) for print last year and of those, 1282 ads (or 620 campaigns) made it into our bi-monthly publication. This is 5.1 (6.5) per cent. Getting on some shortlist at Cannes is easier.
It always amazes me when the PR staff of agencies send us reproachful emails about how we had failed to feature a certain campaign in Archive. "After all," pulling out what they think of as their trump card "…it was on the shortlist at Cannes." This never fails to make me cackle unkindly - to myself of course.
Obviously, we are very pleased if the Grand Prix winners and the Gold Lions meted out at the festival are already known to our faithful readership as a result of the award-winning campaigns having been featured in the magazine before Cannes (see ads on the left).
And if you refer to our banner image; it is taken from the Wrangler "We Are Animals" campaign which was published in Vol. 6/2008. It went on to win the Cannes Print Grand Prix in 2009.
Of course there have been a few cases when something that won had come out after the deadline of Volume 3, which is the issue that usually gets distributed at the festival. But when it comes down to the shortlist - and in some cases even Bronze Lions - we often have the feeling that there is a strong political interest on the part of the festival's organisation to acknowledge as many as possible (for fear that they might think better than coughing up the submission fees in the years to come) and frequently quite irrespective of the work's quality.
Year after year we see campaigns on the shortlist, and even among the Bronzes, that really have no reason to be there. In German we have a word for this - a long compound noun naturally: "Gießkannenprinzip" ("watering can principle"), which illustrates the liberal sprinkling of awards among the less deserving at ad festivals, quite well.
As opposed to awards festivals who make their profit through the submission fees, entering work into Archive magazine is - and always has been - free. (And I intend to keep it that way.) And as a result we can afford not to care if ad people take offence, as they sometimes do, for not having their latest work showcased by us. Submission to Archive being free reserves us the right to reject what we don't think is worth showing to the rest of the world.
I know from our US sales representative, Claudia Coffmann, who has been with the magazine almost as long as I have, that she tends to get flak from some US agencies for that very reason. Americans are easily hurt in their national pride and Claudia claims that some of them believe that we tend to turn up our noses up at them (that prejudice towards good old Europe raising its ugly head again).
Which is absurd of course: When I select work for an upcoming issue (I still look at every single print ad myself as I have done for the past 25 years, while films get preselected by my colleagues Stephanie Sutanto and Teresa Sutter in Vienna as it's the more time-consuming task and a guest juror for the digital section of each issue of the magazine explores the latest websites and apps.
The point I'm trying to make is that most of the time I neither know what country nor what agency the work is from. I prefer it that way as it makes for a fairer selection. Of course, it is hard to avoid knowing, for instance, the UK agency behind Harvey Nichols or who's in charge of British Airways’ advertising. But even with German agencies I usually forget pretty soon what accounts they hold, lose or gain and only find out what comes from where after the final selection for our next issue.