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Stand And Deliver – Judging IBC2014...

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While most of us at IBC are busy racing around the halls, making appointments or debating the latest industry revelations in the Beach Bar, a team of judges is working its way around every single stand and awarding the best of the bunch. Chris Pollard, industry expert and one of this year's judges, sums up the experience...

Every year, IBC gives out awards for the best stands at the show. It's one those things that everyone says they don't really care about, when they actually do!
Having been to every IBC since it came to Amsterdam in the late Jurassic, and having been both a vendor and a buyer in approximately equal measure over that time, I read the call for an extra judge as an opportunity for an enjoyable and unusual task. After a short vetting process, I was duly accepted onto the panel.
All fourteen judges, under the expert and watchful guidance of Robin Lince, duly assembled on the Friday morning, and off we went. We were split into seven teams of two, and each assigned a group of halls to review. This meant looking at every stand, breaking them down into three categories – best shell scheme, and best free space under and over a hundred square metres. Having trudged the floor for a couple of hours, we decided on our shortlist, and retreated to the calm sanctuary of the conference room to submit our recommendations.
I thought this would be the bulk of it. How naive...
Robin, hunched over his trusty laptop, then collated the shortlists from the seven teams, covering all of the halls, and handed them out to us all. We then had until Saturday noon to visit all of the shortlisted stands in all of the halls. If you think this sounds like a lot of walking, then you'd be absolutely right. In over twenty years at IBC, I don't think I've ever walked so far in one day. Maybe even in all five days.
There are strict rules regarding what we were looking for, and how they were scored, but the Official IBC Secrets Act prohibits me from telling you what they are (insert usual 'I could tell you, but...' joke here). All I can say is that we were looking for impact, inventiveness, artistry, and whether they actually work, and marked the stands using a scoring system which makes Mah Jong look like dominoes. Eventually, we retired, tired and sweaty, to Judge Central, and handed in our scores.
Next day, we reconvened to vote on the final shortlist, derived – using magic, mostly – from the scores.
Do you remember the climactic scene from Trading Places? The scene set on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange? Well, no-one actually collapsed and was carried out in our case, but I suspect it was a close run thing.
By a combination of logic, rational discussion, mathematics and shouting in very unequal quantities, we eventually ended up with our winners, who were duly notified for the Grand Awards Ceremony.
I gather that within minutes, Twitter was alight with the winners' posts, and as a weary and footsore judge, that was really rather gratifying. Our job done, we could slump back into our chairs and reflect on another triumph of democracy and common sense.
I must say that rarely have I met such a charming and friendly group as the panel of judges.
Drawn from every part of our industry, and from a wide cross section of nationalities, the discussions were lively, good natured and, often, hilarious. I made several new friends, people whom I might not otherwise have come across, and the whole process was both entertaining and rewarding. I hope I get invited back to do it again...

Read Chris's article in BFV online.


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