MY ALTERNATIVE “30 SECONDS OVER CHICAGO” AWARDS.
Last Tuesday night’s frigid weather didn’t stop more than 300 hardy souls from gathering at the Double Door for the 30 Seconds Over Chicago finals, sponsored by Chicago’s hardest rocking startup, Gigity.TV.
30 Seconds Over Chicago prompted local writers, musicians and videographers to create commercials for local music venues. The winning team got $1000, and every team got a $150 bar credit from their venue. The teams had a little over a month to shoot their spots.
Gigity.TV founder Rich Seng says “it’s all about promoting what makes Chicago a great music city.”
A DISAGREEABLE GUY
I like startups, and I like competitions. I especially like disagreeing with the judges at startup competitions.
The finals featured three judges from the music and advertising communities, and I found myself cheerfully disagreeing with many of their opinions. And when I saw the winners and vote totals the next day, I was happy to disagree with them, too.
Asking myself one question—How eager would I be to go to this venue after seeing this spot?—here are the awards I’d have given out:
Best Spot—Empty Bottle. Like many of the commercials, this is no more than a montage of crowd and performance shots set to music. But this one trounces them all—gritty black-and-white video perfectly synched to the cranking band onstage, with the inexplicable, unforgettable shot of a guy biting a monitor. I’ll have what he’s having.
Best First 27 Seconds—Schubas. The voters’ first-place winner is a sweet, warmly funny and beautifully shot road trip movie, following a scruffy-but-cute band from somewhere out in the sticks until the moment they see the lights of Chicago from their VW bus. Problem is, the “Feels Like Home” tagline doesn’t tell me anything special about Schubas—it could be for virtually any music venue in Chicago.
Best Example of Producers Going with Their Goofiest Idea—The Hideout. A couple of Hasidic mafioso sneak in from an alley and are about to open a portentous briefcase, when the lights come up to reveal a hyperactive white deejay, blasting beats and dancing like an idiot. I don’t get it—but I’ve watched it half a dozen times and it still makes me laugh. Unlike …
Most Puzzling Spot the Judges Loved—Jerry’s. A couple eats, drinks and listens to music, while everyone in the place (couple included) wears identical cartoonish space helmets. Sort of amusing, I thought, but the judges went nuts over it, and the crowd voted it into third place. Maybe I’m getting too old for this shit.
Strangest Strategy—Buddy Guy’s Legends. Sure, it would have been obvious to play up Buddy Guy and Chicago’s blues heritage, and creative teams love to avoid the obvious. But the spot was mostly about food. Sorry, I’m not going to Buddy Guy’s place for the food.
Best Spots Almost Nobody Voted for—The Vic and Uncommon Ground. Neither was perfect, but the couple listening to a show across the street from the Vic was funny, and Uncommon Ground’s nervous first-timer won me over with her shy smile. I wish I’d voted one or the other into my top three, because out of 903 votes the two spots together received just 13.
Best Idea in a Bad Commercial—Park West. Park West has hosted dozens of bands before they went multi-platinum. Why not simply do a montage of tickets, backed with a performance by the most recent band to make it big? Instead, this spot—while eventually showing tickets from a 1981 U2 to a 2012 Of Monsters and Men—features boring shots of an empty venue and a voiceover like a bad term paper.
You can watch all the spots at Gigity.TV, and you’ll probably disagree with me on a bunch of them. Leave a comment and let me know which ones rocked you!