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Dubai Lynx Vs. MENA Cristals

One was rocked by a ‘fake ads’ scandal, the other has seen a steadily declining number of entries. So which of the region’s competing advertising awards has the edge?

 

The Dubai Lynx advertising awards was rocked by a scandal last year in which several entries were found to be ‘fake'. Creative agency FP7 Doha was stripped of its Agency of the Year award, after it emerged that several submissions had not been approved by clients, contravening the organizer's rules. Though Dubai Lynx has tightened the rules for this year's event, which takes place on 17 March, the credibility of the event certainly took a hit.

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The MENA Cristal Awards, which is held each February in the snowy slopes of Mzaar in Lebanon, has generally passed off without scandal (at least not of the ‘fake ads' variety). This is due to, perhaps, the larger judging panels.

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Despite the ‘fake ads’ scandal of 2009, the Dubai Lynx gongs are, arguably, more coveted than the MENA Cristals. The fact that the event is organized by the same people behind the prestigious Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival does, perhaps, give it additional kudos.

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The event company 2C Associes produces and organizes the MENA Cristal Festival, and is also behind the Cristal Festival in Europe and the China Cristal Awards. Despite being respectable awards, these events do not have the same standing as the Lynx and Cannes awards.

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It's not all about the gongs. For many, the point of attending such awards is to network with industry peers. The Dubai Lynx usually sees a few parties, and the awards night is as lavish as its attendees are inebriated. But the fact that delegates are scattered around the city means that there is no focal point, and many guests find themselves stumbling into some disparate - and sometimes desperate - nighttime haunts.

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The Cristals has the edge on the schmoozing front. Most of the delegates (numbering just 530 this year) stay in the Faraya Intercontinental or nearby, and so it is easier to network with advertising's great and good. As John Merrifield, creative at large of TBWA/Asia Pacific, told the crowd at the closing ceremony of this year's event: "This to me doesn't feel like an awards show, it feels like a big family reunion."

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Though not the main draw, the speakers at advertising awards certainly add depth - and, perhaps, help you convince yourself that you're ‘working'. The Dubai International Advertising Festival (14-16 March), of which the Dubai Lynx is part, has this year scaled back its program. But there is still an impressive array of speakers, including Mark Tutssel (chief creative officer, Leo Burnett Worldwide), Richard Pinder (chief operating officer, Publicis Worldwide) and John Hunt (worldwide creative director, TBWAWorldwide).

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The Cristals has a slightly more lively and offbeat agenda when it comes to its choice of speakers. This year, for instance, Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of the Soviet Union, was the star guest - although he didn't really talk about advertising. The Cristals sessions are usually a little more engaging; as Austyn Allison, managing editor of Kipp's sister title, Communicate, says: "The MENA Cristals is more Bilderberg than the G8". Still, we're calling this a 1-1 draw.

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Juries
 

The Dubai Lynx has an impressive judging panel. Amir Kassaei, chief creative officer at DDB Group Germany, heads the TV/Cinema, Print, Outdoor, Radio and Craft category; David Nobay, creative chairman of Droga5 Australia, is president of the jury in the Direct & Sales Promotion and Interactive category; Barry Cupples, CEO of Omnicom Media Group Asia Pacific, leads the Media panel. David Nobay, creative chairman of Droga5 Australia, is on the Integrated panel.

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Despite the impressive jury panel at the Dubai Lynx, the Cristals has the edge in this regard. The Lebanon event boasts a more varied panel of judges for each category, with a collage of industry figures from both client and agency side.

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Though Dubai Lynx has not announced the number of entries it has received this year, but there has been a rapid increase in submissions in recent years. In 2007, there were 1682 entries, the following year there were 2023, and last year there were 2079 entries.

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The Cristals has seen falling participation over the last three years. In 2008, there were 1200 entries, but this fell to 1000 in 2009 and 849 this year.

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Severe weather warnings aside, it is generally easier to travel to the Dubai Lynx. The event is being held at The Palladium in Dubai Media City this year.

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A long, expensive taxi ride from the airport - and then the danger of getting snowed in. If you do travel to Mzaar, you run the danger of being stuck with your ‘creative' buddies for longer than you expected.

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There is only one organized evening event at the Lynx - the night of the awards itself. On top of that, there is a range of fine (and not so fine) nightspots to visit.

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Long, wine-heavy lunches, free drinks and skiing at the weekend - all this makes the Cristals the place to be when the ‘work' is done.

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Under Kipp's reckoning, the MENA Cristals just clinches it. But what do you think?

 

3 Comments

  1. zouzou on March 1, 2010 4:05 pm

    The Lynx are a disgrace. Under an image of being the ultimate award, teyhave displaed an arrogance and lack of knowledge of the region. Not that the Cristal are better, but they never tried to present themself as the utlimate unbiaised award. It is high time for the region to have a real award.

     
  2. Olivier on March 3, 2010 7:06 pm

    Mena Cristals rocks !

     
  3. Andrew on March 4, 2010 8:21 am

    Cancer vs Aids, if you ask me.

     

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