You get two tribes at awards dinners. And not just winners and losers.

To the Guildhall on Tuesday night for the Financial Services Forum Marketing Effectiveness Awards.  Two miscellaneous observations:

–  As a judge, I really do think it’s important to see the awards actually given out because it’s always salutary to be reminded just how much they mean to the people who win them. I don’t suppose their joy lasts very long – maybe not even till the following day – but at the time, it’s huge.  The people at the winning tables are ecstatic.  It’s something we judges should remember if ever we’re feeling a bit tired or hungry or bored or whatever and are inclined to be anything less than diligent when looking at the last category before the lunch break.

–  I must say (might well have said this a year ago) that these FSF Awards have achieved something you’d have said was impossible, which is to introduce a major innovation in the format of the evening which works brilliantly and makes it all a good deal more enjoyable.  Unlike any other awards ceremony I’ve ever seen, the winners don’t traipse up to the platform to collect their prizes:  their prizes are brought to them, at their tables.  And not just by anyone, but by the rugby-star-turned-TV-personality Matt Dawson (with a cameraman in close attendance), who does a wonderful job of bantering with the winners and making everyone feel good about the whole business.  Just goes to show:  challenge everything, because there’s always a better way.

Anyway, none of that was what I wanted to write about.  I only have one short and simple point to make, based on the behaviour of the 500 or so of us attending at the point when the awards ceremony itself came to an end a little after 11pm.  That’s when my two-tribes observation came to mind

The first tribe is made up of those for whom the end of the awards ceremony marks, more or less, the end of the evening.  Released from our tables, we may go and shake hands with a few old friends we’ve noticed around the place.  But either because we’re tired, or because we’ve got early starts in the morning, or because we’re worried about last trains, or just because it’s too bloody noisy once the disco gets started, or just because we’re old, within about fifteen minutes we’re in the cloakroom queue to get our coats and briefcases.

The second tribe is made up of those for whom the end of the awards ceremony marks, more or less, the beginning of the evening.  Released from their tables, they head pretty quickly down to the crypt, where there is music and a free bar.  So far, quite frankly, there has been little to enjoy – boring speeches, mediocre food, social interaction limited largely to the people sitting on either side, even Matt Dawson wasn’t very interesting after the first few minutes – but now the rest of the night has some potential.  Anything could happen.  And for the large number of out-of-town attendees staying overnight, anything could go on happening until a remarkably late hour.

I don’t suppose I need to bother explaining which tribe I belong to.  And something else which doesn’t need much explaining:  which of the tribes is likely to have had a brilliant evening, and which thought it was all extremely dull.

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