Sometimes the only thing more unsatisfying than failing at a long-cherished goal is succeeding at it. Such was the experience of winning Best of Show at the Bessies, Canada’s premier TV commercial gala for the advertising creative community.
As a writer, having assailed and broken through to the industry’s top tier of ad agencies — and with a bagful of awards for the effort — the only remaining task was to reach for the highest honor.
We knew we had a shot at a prize because of the uniqueness of the creative. But when the organizers put us at a table near the front, we were confused, since we weren’t friends with the judges or anything of the sort.
The Master of Ceremonies plodded though the awards category by category until all that was left was the big three.
We didn’t win the Bronze. ‘Must be a pal of the Committee,’ my Creative Director groused. We didn’t win the Silver. ‘The whole thing is fixed,’ lamented my Art Director. As the drum roll started for the Best of Show, it hit me. ‘No, we’re going to get the top prize!’
Sure enough, we did. And after the speeches and all the hoopla, we went down to the hotel bar to receive the accolades of our mates and a late night of celebration. Except there were no accolades and no celebrations.
As they wandered in to really tie one on, the crowds gathered unto themselves, free to complain about the unfairness of it all and to share the latest conspiratorial gossip.
Nobody said a word to us. Recognizing the vulnerability of our position, my Creative Director bolted for the door. My Art Director immediately took his winnings in the shapely form of a star-struck student who’d sneaked in. And I was alone to face the awful truth. That glory is its own punishment.
Fortunately, Virginia diagnosed my condition as soon as I got home and threw a party to commemorate the occasion a few days later.
But the gold I had pursued so single-mindedly had already lost its luster.