Having just read Jamie's posting on the above, which I think is a great post, pretty much summing up a lot of the evening, I did feel it missed a couple of elements that, from an ad agency perspective, were really key failings on the night.
- The winners - what did they do to win? No-one knew, no-one was shown, and it was all a little disappointing/frustrating.
- The cost - much as Jamie says, for circa £1800 for a table (which, I believe, is pretty comparable to the RADS/CIPDS) - or £185 per head, it just doesn't seem value for money. We were lucky enough to have a client there, and won our category, but you know normally at these events you feel like you've got value for money - plenty of wine (certainly not just 4 bottles between 10-12 people), entertainment (pre-drinks (which I missed but looked like they'd been fun), guest presenter, post-event dancing, drinking etc), and slick professional awards ceremony - not just a PowerPoint presentation cunningly introducing the 'box' animation - all add up to 'an event' and an 'experience'. This just seemed to smack of cheapness and trying to make a quick buck (or several).
- shortlists - as Jamie mentions, these were not shortlists - they were just lists. It's impossible to attend/bring clients when you have 6 or 7 (the six or seven you entered) in a category, or across several categories. So some form of long list/short list approach would be great next year
- judging criteria - the categories in the most part just don't seem to make sense. On our table, no-one really knew what most of them were, or why the clients/companies listed were in there. This was not helped by then not showing/explaining what it was about it that made it great
- judging - there is a wealth of opinion (as can be seen by this blog, and other similar ones) and expertise out there - all keen to help push this event forward. We need it (an online recruitment advertising awards event) and with a brand that has been around as long as OnRec, we should be in a position to deliver it. Why not go out to the industry/clients/companies and ask them to input into the criteria/judging etc.
- after-event entertainment - there was none. The lights went up at 11. I've never, ever experienced anything like it before - like Jim-bob says, this is the part where networking (read: more drinking and dancing like an idiot) takes place, which makes a great talking point for the next few weeks...
Overall, whilst I was really impressed by the attendence, the venue and the level of effort the team at OnRec put into 'the event' - for which I think they did a great job - the feeling of cutting corners still comes across, and just left me with a bit of a bitter taste.
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to see anyone giving anyone a hand-shandy, which is a shame as that would have added to the amusement, but I am keen to see the 700 photos the photographer took of a mirror - on which he seemed obsessed for a good 15-20 minutes.
OnRec, I applaud you for taking this and creating a much larger, more aspirational event - it looked great - really impressive - I just think you now need to deliver on the expectation you create when it comes to the value an attendee gets out of the evening themselves and provide an event that should really reflect the £50-£60K of income it generates - not just a beautiful venue.
I had a great chat with a lovely lady from OnRec (i'm sorry, but having bought the table some more wine, my memory - which is pretty ropey at the best of times - was a little poor), and am keen to see how the whole product/brand evolves after its purchase, but for this event would just like to see more in return for our commitment and support.
If you can add to the level of professionalism and feeling of real value to the night, I think you'll start to see more support from Agencies, their clients and then media and suppliers. But something really needs to happen now, as this is becoming such a large-scale event, the expectation is growing.