It’s awards season! And not to be left out, I found myself at the Digital Impact Awards Europe gala dinner at Park Plaza Riverbank in London last week. Swanky, eh?!
Now I should clarify that I wasn’t personally up for an award, but was there as a guest of my client, Shaw & Co, and their brilliant branding agency, Design By Structure, who were shortlisted in two categories, ‘Best Digital Rebrand’ and ‘Best Use of Digital – Professional Services’.
I was invited to take a guest seat at the table because in my client’s words, “Your images and video are a central thread through our branding. You have to be there.” So I went, and I’m glad I did.
The Dream Warm-Up
The evening started brilliantly with a warm-up act by one of my comedy heroes, Mark Steel, who did his ‘grumpy about how rubbish everything is’ style of comedy aimed squarely at the difficulties of dealing with life in a digital world; passwords we can never remember and which are a PITA to recover was one superb stream-of-consciousness rant from the master of rants.
Mark co-hosted the evening, reading out the shortlisted entries to an increasingly loud (read drunk) audience, and occasionally threatening to have the next award handed to a member of the waiting staff if no one was going to listen to the announcements.
My client and their agency were up against some really big brands (with even bigger budgets), so we didn’t expect anything much beyond the nice dinner and some free bubbly, so when they scored Highly Commended in both their nominated categories, they were absolutely delighted.
Bear in mind, this is a brand working with a fraction of the marketing budget of the likes of Canon Europe, DHL and Diageo who all scooped top awards, so to even have a nomination was a great result. Two nominations, even better, and to score Highly Commended in both, just astonishing.
Cornering the Comedian
To top my evening off I managed to corner Mark Steel to shake his hand and trouble him for the inevitable selfie, at which point he asked if I fancied having a beer with him! So we talked about his Radio 4 show, Mark Steel’s In Town, life as a comedian (how you can tell if someone’s going to make it in standup), then on to football, tennis and the joys of learning a foreign language (Mark is fluent in French so go find his Paris show on that previous link).
I have to admit, I came back on the train the next morning with something of a fuzzy head, but it was more the lack of sleep than an excess of alcohol. But as tired as I was, the thrill of seeing how my work played a part in a client’s success was heightened further by the experience of meeting someone else whose work I admire. Thanks for being a proper, down-to-earth gent, Mark, it was a pleasure to share a beer with you.*
*To be clear, we didn’t share the same bottle as that would have been weird and gross.