Whew! My official invitation arrived in the nick of time and later today I’m off to NYC to attend the MM&M Awards Dinner & Presentation black tie event at Tavern on the Green restaurant.

I am a little nervous.

For one thing, I don’t know what table I will be sitting at. They might seat me at a table next to the kitchen or bathroom with the staff far, far away from the stage.

But I’m mainly nervous because I have been critical of some of the awards handed out to pharmaceutical advertisers and marketers (see, for example, “Awards. What Are They Good For?“) and have even suggested that one ad agency team should be fired for not delivering any return on investment (ROI) — unless you consider awards an ROI (see “Takeda – Fire These Guys!“).

All the people I have been critical of over the past months will be at this ceremony and some are even award finalists (see the list of finalists here).

For example, AbelsonTaylor, the agency at least partially responsible for the Rozerem DTC campaign, which I have criticized many times, is a finalist in several categories, including:

  • Best Media Buying/Planning in Professional Media
  • Best Use of Direct Marketing to Healthcare Professionals
  • Best Professional Sales Aid
  • Best Overall Advertising Campaign in Consumer Press
  • Best Individual Product Advertisement in Professional Press
  • Best Total Integration Program for Small Companies
  • Best Individual Product Advertisement in Consumer Press

Jeez Louise! I won’t be able to swing a cat in the “Tavern” without hitting someone from AbelsonTaylor!

NOTE: AbelsonTaylor is a finalist in the Best Individual Product Advertisement in Consumer Press category for the Rozerem Attic Print Ad, which was severely dissed by Lee Weinblatt in a recent Pharmaceutical Executive article (see “Direct to Consumer: All Eyes on You“). Here’s what this expert said:

“The Rozerem ads don’t work for many reasons. First of all, we found out the beaver was a turnoff. Whenever test group respondents would focus on it, their interest went down like a rock. In addition, they remembered the beaver and Abe Lincoln, but they couldn’t remember the name of the product. On top of that, we found the ad was very poor in terms of “Is this brand unique?” Readers had no idea what made this product different.

“There are several mistakes here. First is the headline: It isn’t easy to read against the background. Second is the body copy underneath: “It is the first and only prescription sleep aid that…shows no potential for drug abuse or dependence.” Why is that there? Why isn’t that as big as “Your Dreams Miss You”? If that’s their key point, it should be in bold letters.

“Rozerem has invested a great deal of money in an integrated campaign incorporating print ads and television commercials. This particular ad, on its own, does not readily convey what the product does or its benefits. In fact, our test showed that fewer than 3 percent read the key copy in the third line describing this product’s uniqueness.”

Of course, that’s just one guy’s opinion — albeit based on some testing — and the awards are determined by a committee of several experts. In any case, AbelsonTaylor must be doing some things right to be a finalist in so many categories!

But it’s possible that I’ll meet up with some friends from the following agencies that are also finalists:

  • HealthEd
  • Rosetta
  • LyonHeart
  • Avenue A/Razorfish
  • Lois Paul & Partners
  • TargetRx

It’s time to put foolish fears aside and board the NJ Transit local to NYC! I hope to make it back in one piece on Friday with some photos and reports, which — if I don’t watch my back — could be CSI evidence after the crowd gets through with me!

P.S. Does anyone wonder WHY I am attending events like this given my views on awards?

First, I do it for you. Someone has to get on the inside and report it like it is!

Secondly, it sounds like a great party! I am looking forward, for example, to the comedian.

Thirdly, I have a quest, which is to attend — at least once — every awards ceremony relating to advertising and marketing in the pharmaceutical industry. It’s sort of a treasure hunt.

P.P.S. Note to MM&M. Thank you so much for inviting me as a guest. I hope I am sitting with you guys because (1) it would be great to meet people in the flesh, and (2) you can protect me from the AT crowd! Also, don’t worry. I won’t swing any cats!