On Friday evening, I heard an interesting interview on NPR with two Olympians--one a rower from the 1996 games and one a team handball player from the 2000 games--who both finished ninth in their sports. It came out that more than 80% of all Olympians don't win medals.
80% of some of the best athletes in the world go home empty-handed. So the question becomes, are those athletes losers, after all, they are not "award-winning."
Our current award-mania would make the man who finishes fourth to "Usainity," an anonymity. Someone not to be considered. A poor performer. He can run at, merely, 26.5 miles per hour, not at Bolt's 27 miles per hour.
I think about this also in terms of advertising. Despite all the work that people say sucks so bad, much work is really pretty good. Sure too much is shackled with saying too much. Sure you can sometimes smell the mendacity from miles away, but much of the work we see is pretty good. Or goes to build a business. Or define a brand.
Not all work can run a 9.58. Some work runs a 9.92.
That doesn't mean it sucks.
Much of what is wrong with our judgment of advertising comes from our judgment criteria. Not all brands are cool. Not all brands are universally known and so can get by with the slimmest allusion to what they actually do.
In fact, some commercials--and they will never win awards or echo through the blogosphere--are smart, informative, persuasive. They are not sexy, fast and notorious.
Today, qualities like smart, informative and persuasive make them also-rans.