The Radio Mercury Awards quietly dropped prizes in four categories this year, citing the quality of the entries. The move not to make an award in the Radio Station Produced category prompted the outraged Viewpoint in today’s Only On RBR.com section from Lost Coast Communications President Patrick Cleary. The other categories without prize winners this year are Political, Public Service Announcement, Radio Station Produced, and Student Produced. The Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB), which administers the awards program, insists that the rules were properly followed.
When the finalists were announced last month, no mention was made of the deleted categories. However, the decision not to make awards in four categories was explained on the Mercury Awards website with the posting of the finalists.
“Our final round judges felt strongly that only those commercials that met a certain standard should be recognized. As a result, we have fewer finalists and winners, and the following categories will not be award prizes in the following categories: Political, Public Service Announcement, Radio Station Produced, and Student Produced,” the awards program site stated.
“Going forward, we will be focused on raising the bar for creative excellence in Radio, both in the advertising community and within the Radio industry. We will announce several new initiatives at the Awards event on June 17 that we hope will strengthen our educational and outreach efforts,” the announcement added.
“I never heard of the Olympics cancelling a medal event because none of the entrants were as good as previous champions,” Cleary complained.
“Oh, by the way, none of these judges work for radio stations. They all work for ad agencies, and of course all the ad agency categories had winners,” he added. That’s not completely correct, since many political ads and PSAs are created by ad agencies.
Who were the judges?
As listed in our story last month, Rick Boyko, director of the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Brandcenter and former co-president and chief creative officer of Ogilvy & Mather, served as Chief Judge. The rest of the panel: Bill Bruce, chairman, chief creative officer, BBDO New York; Pete Favat, chief creative officer, Arnold Worldwide; David Fowler, senior partner, worldwide creative director, Ogilvy & Mather; Mark Gross, senior vice president, group creative director, DDB Chicago; Mike Hughes, president and creative director, The Martin Agency; Lance Jensen, chief creative officer and founder, Modernista!; Jose Molla, founder, creative director, la comunidad; Mark Nardi, creative director, Hill | Holliday; Ronny Northrup, creative director, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners; Bob Scarpelli, chairman and chief creative officer, DDB Worldwide; Mike Shine, executive creative director, Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners; Joyce King Thomas, executive vice president/chief creative officer, McCann Erickson, and Bill Wright, creative director, Crispin Porter + Bogusky.
Asked to respond to Cleary by RBR/TVBR, the RAB said “the goal this year has been to help Radio up its game” and that the panel of judges this year “made a commitment to raise the bar on creativity and execution.” The statement from RAB noted that the Radio Mercury Awards rules had always permitted the judges to decline to make an award in a category if the quality of entries did not meet their standards.
“Our final round judges felt strongly that only those commercials that met a certain standard should be recognized – whether created by stations, ad agencies, or students. As a result, we have fewer finalists and winners, and prizes will not be awarded in the following categories this year: Political, Public Service Announcement, Radio Station Produced, and Student Produced,” RAB said.