Big Chip Awards 2012

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Pastey's been to an awards ceremony, and wants to tell us what all the excitement was about. Or wasn't about.

Big Chip Awards 2012

Some mobile phones.

So just what is a digital awards ceremony like? Is it all ritz and glitz?

Well, sort of is probably the best answer. It tries to be is probably more accurate, though. The awards ceremony in question here was the Big Chip awards 2012. Now in its 14th year, the Big Chip awards are to promote digital in northern England. Created and run by Manchester Digital.

The venue was a rather swanky hotel in the centre of Manchester, and the evening kicked off with a champagne reception in the hotel's large bar. There were lots of people milling around in badly fitting tuxedos, or their special little dresses. Lots of marketing people, which did seem strange for a digital awards ceremony. But, the glasses of champagne were laid out on a long table and people were able to help themselves during forty five minutes of mingling before heading down to the main hall and the dinner. The mingling though wasn't meeting new people, it was acquaintances being renewed. It was quite obvious early on that most people there knew each other. There was a definite "Old Boys Club" atmosphere.

On the way downstairs there were several large boards with seating plans on so you'd know in advance who you were sharing a table with, and the Old Boys Club was once again evident. Lots of the company names that you keep hearing in the sector in this area were there, next to each other. The smaller companies that nobody's heard off and weren't expected to win anything were spread out, in the middle. Now, this may seem like cynicism and to an extent it is. But as the dinner progressed into the awards themselves it became obvious that those who were winning the awards were seated to the sides towards the back. I was wondering why they weren't at the front until I realised that from the tables they were at there was just the right amount of walk to the stage, and because they were at the sides there didn't have to squeeze past other attendees.

Before dinner was served the compere for the evening came on, apparently he's a famous northern comedian that I've never heard of who's entire act seemed to consist of reading out people's tweets about the evening and mocking them. There was then an introduction film which, to be quite frank was pointless and actually rather badly done. It didn't tell you anything about the Big Chip awards, or even the organisers. But the people that produced it seemed happy with it and friend of the organisers, so that was nice.

The dinner wasn't bad, but not worth anywhere near what we were paying for it, but did give us a chance to chat with those sat at the table with us. A nice couple from a recruitment agency who seemed to hate cold callers and standard recruitment agency behaviour more than me, which I was kinda surprised at. The others on the table were from a company that specialised in search optimisation and keywords, nice down to earth people who were along for a night out rather than any expectation of winning. Which made it all the better when they did win and surprised everyone in the room.

And I think that's the main problem, all the way through the awards part of the evening with the compere mocking the winners in the name of humour, you could hear muttered names of those people thought were going to win. And most of the time they were right. The Old Boys Club reared its head constantly throughout the evening, you knew before they announced the winners who'd won. Everyone in the room did. It wasn't so much an awards ceremony as an Old Boys Back Slapping Club. It was quite embarrassing and pathetically sad really.

When all the awards were over, and people started mingling again and making their way down to the cellar bar the impression that it was all marketing people pushed its way to the front of the mind again. Almost all the attendees were either the company owners or the marketing people. Which for a digital awards ceremony was somewhat strange. All the developers who actually do the work weren't there. There was a spattering of designers but they'd found each other and had formed a small group on the outskirts of the networking menagerie.

Overall I came away from the night with my cynicism re-enforced. A digital awards ceremony that really just seemed like a sham cover for a bit of back slapping amongst friends, where the attendees weren't those that deserved the awards, but the bosses and blaggers. But then most of the people who won the awards didn't deserve them either. There were a few exceptions who did deserve them, but they were the exceptions rather than the norm.

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