The View From The Jury: Preethi Mariappan

Last week, the ADC team left the friendly confines of its New York gallery and headed westward with the Advertising and Digital juries of the ADC 95th Annual Awards. While most award shows prefer to conduct their judging in tropical climes, this year we went against the grain, taking our esteemed and diverse group of judges more than 8,000 feet above sea level, to the frosty peaks of Beaver Creek, Colorado. Snow and skies replaced sea and sand, as ADC went all in on “après-ski”. The result was still the same: incredible minds got together to debate and decide the most Cube-worthy advertising and design work of the past year.

We asked a few of our Jury Members to share their experiences of the past week, as soon as they came down from their Rocky Mountain highs.

Chief Creative Officer
Razorfish Germany
Berlin, Germany
Digital Jury



Welcome to Beaver Creek, Colorado! It’s almost midnight when the last set of jurors, including myself, pull up to the door of a ‘Kubrickian’ hotel that feels vaguely familiar. But I’m distracted by the warm welcome from the ADC team, and put it down to jetlag.

Day 1

It’s 8am, and we meet fellow jurors. The first thing that strikes me is the surprising number of women jurors in the room. And one of them is a mom with her baby along for the ADC 95th Annual Awards judging! That has got to be a first!

Soon in our jury room, we are voting away. There’s a defining moment. Someone wants to know what exactly makes a web commercial, a ‘web’ commercial. We’re still figuring that one out.

Later, the ADC team, in all their wisdom, give us a free half day. It’s off to snowmobile for the adventurous and bed for the jetlagged.

We meet at dinner again and unanimously agree that this was definitely the hotel from ‘The Shining’.

Day 2

There’s some bad news and some good news.

Our jury head, the lovely Cheyney Robinson needs to take time off to deal with high altitude sickness. On the other hand, the entries for Day 2 are a huge improvement from Day 1. There are many great pieces, and the mood in our little group immediately soars. There’s real appreciation for the ideas and excellence in craft, as we frantically jot our favorites down.

Later that evening we emerge victorious and bleary eyed determined to hit up ‘town’. A 20-minute drive later we set foot in Vail. Not a soul in sight. We find the only pizza place that’s open, order up some bad pizza, hot chicken wings and beer, and alarm the locals as we loudly compare New York real estate prices, and what’s next for digital creativity.

Day 3

There’s some bad news and some good news.

We missed a whole bunch of entries and, and we will need to do a late shift to make up for time. Our jury head is back, albeit with an oxygen tank — one that I trip over and disconnect during my coffee run, causing a wave of horror in the room, before someone plugs it back in!

It’s late evening, and we finally move on to awarding metal with our other jury group. Dynamics change in a larger group; it’s now noisy and fun as we pull out our notes, fight for work we love and argue against others. We are reminded again of how difficult it is to earn an ADC Cube.

Just before dinner we review the first round of metals. It’s amazing how that in spite of coming from different countries, backgrounds and philosophies, we shared common ground on what made a piece of work ADC  Cube-worthy. Beyond excellence in concept and craft, we looked for work that pushed boundaries and redefined its category for the future.

Day 4

‘Wildcards’ bring out something, well, wild, in creatives. We each had the opportunity to bring back an entry we felt merited consideration. Parliamentary debates have nothing on creative directors making eloquent speeches. Many new pieces of work make it in.

The second half of the day is integrated judging, where the digital and advertising juries co-judge to award metal. This is pretty unique as a juror experience, and t’s very valuable learning. Rarely do creatives from such different backgrounds get to share their thoughts and opinions over some of the best work in the industry.

But before you know it, the day’s over and we’re done! Its time to take excessive amounts of (sadly, yes) selfies and head out for our last dinner together. It’s a night of laughter, camaraderie and reliving our time together. We say our goodbyes and vow to keep in touch.

The next morning there’s a massive snowstorm. Flights are cancelled. We’re the only people stuck in the hotel, and someone spots a red tricycle in the hallway.

But that’s another story.


The ADC 95th Annual Awards Celebration takes place Thursday, June 9, 2016 in New York City.