The View From the Jury: Sarah Watson

BBH's CSO gets into the creative inner sanctum at ADC 95th Annual Awards judging

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 Strategy Officer
New York, NY
Advertising Jury



ADC states that their awards are ‘rare for a reason’.

Here are a few rare and not-so-rare things I found whilst judging last week in Beaver Creek, and a few reasons to go with them.


Rare: Oxygen

Reason: Beaver Creek is at 8,080 ft. This is apparently just above the risk threshold for altitude sickness. The lack of oxygen in the air significantly intensifies the effects of alcohol. Everything that follows has to be viewed through this lens. Thanks Anne-Cecile’s team for the customized Beroccas.



Rare: Planners

Reason: To mortal outsiders, creative awards juries are a bit like Bohemian Grove or The House of the Undying; darkened, closed places of mystical secrecy. Not sure if the antler chandeliers helped dispel this. We planners don’t often get let inside the inner sanctum. Thanks Mark Tutssel for my initiation: I have now crossed over to the dark side.



Not so rare: Women

Reason: The team ADC spends four months meticulously researching, hunting down and checking out the highest quality jurors. This was by far the most diverse advertising group I’ve ever been in – on all dimensions. The ADC considers 48% female juries as a failure of equality. Badass women, badass men, great judging. Congrats to the mighty Jen Larkin Kuzler for not settling for the same old crew.



Rare: Other humans

Reason: The resort is shut. You can have the pool to yourself! Sounds cool? (Lu Chekowsky certainly made sure the hot tubs didn’t get lonely). At times it becomes somewhat reminiscent of The Shining. I’m assuming we are not the first awards resort-off-season-jury to observe this.



Not so rare: Tears

Reason: It might be the altitude sickness (see ‘oxygen’), but I spent most of the time sobbing into my ADC-issued iPod. Thank God for darkened rooms. The work was so beautiful and moving. I couldn’t process all these emotions fast enough to vote – stuff would hit me when I went to the bathroom or as I went to get some water. Advertising overload!


Rare: Awards

Reason: Its true. It really is hard to win an ADC award. There was so much amazing, moving, beautiful, hillarious work, but that’s just not good enough. It has to punch the jury in the face like nothing else has ever done before. That’s how you win. And that’s pretty rare.



Rare: Catching your flight home

Reason: Don’t be fooled by the fact that the lifts are shut and its been 50 degrees. It doesn’t mean there isn’t a freak spring snowstorm coming that will shut all the roads. Hope you all made it home eventually – see you next time!



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