There’s a scene in Cross of Iron where James Coburn’s character, Sgt Steiner, is having a final showdown with his weasely commanding officer, Captain Stransky, played by Maximmilian Schell.
The film is set on the Eastern Front during the Russian counter offensive in 1943.
What has all this got to do with advertising, I hear you ask.
All Captain Stransky wants is an Iron Cross, (Germany’s equivalent of our Victoria Cross or America’s Purple Heart), but he doesn’t want to get his hands dirty getting it.
In fact, he’ll do pretty much anything to make sure he doesn’t have to face the enemy himself.
Including betraying his own men.
Steiner, the archetypal hero, who’d do anything for his men and has faced more bullets than a Mexican firing squad pole, informs him that you can’t just expect to get a medal for turning up. You have to go out there and do something above and beyond the call of duty.
The same should be said about awards.
At one particular advertising awards that I was honoured to be judging, I couldn’t help but notice that rather a lot of “good work” was getting through to the next stage of the competition.
My problem with this was – isn’t “Good Work” what we should be doing as a matter of course?
Surely, producing “good”, or even “very good” work is just having a good day at the office.
To warrant getting a medal it needs to be OUTFUCKINGSTANDING.
To have done something extraordinary. Something that no mere mortal could possible dream of aspiring to. (Even though we do.)
It needs to be valuable. It needs currency.
And achieving that is difficult. Very difficult. For everyone. That’s why it takes hard work, determination, diligence and most of all, desire.
I don’t believe that the best creative people do the best creative work.
I believe the most determined do.