The What-Ifs: Olive Awards Honor Best Ad Concepts Never Approved

There are the Cannes Lions, Clios and the Effies. Then there are The Olive Awards. Since 2004, Mister :-|Face Comedy Production and audio post production company Sound Lounge have hosted The Olive Awards to celebrate the best advertisements that were never released.

The ones that clients didn't have the gumption to green-light. The concept that was too off-brand. The creative that was too funny. 

"The basic concept of the awards [is to] celebrate and produce great work that was killed by an evil client," jokes Tony Mennuto, Founder and CCO, Mister :-|Face Comedy Production.

In actuality, the award show is not really to illustrate the missed opportunities of unrealized pitches or to highlight the poor judgment of clients, but to showcase creativity. "Even if you can create whatever you want with no clients and few restrictions, really good creative ideas are hard to come by," says Mennuto. "I think it’s a combo of best use of the medium and flat-out smart or funny thinking." 



This year, producers did things a little differently. While keeping with the original concept as a radio script-only competition that awards the top three writers, this year, the show added a video category. "That came about with the launch of Mister:-|Face’s new live-action production unit and the fact that we knew we could effortlessly cast internally using Sidecar Casting, Sound Lounge’s recently established on-camera extension of their casting services, as well as shoot and provide all post production for the spot," says Mennuto.

All ideas/concepts were submitted in script form. "It's also important to note that the judging process isn’t conducted in-house at Mister:-|Face or Sound Lounge," says Mennuto. "We curate a jury of industry heavy-hitters every year and send them the entrants’ script submissions, so each judge can cast their votes."

Some 500 entrees were judged by a panel of industry judges, including Bengt Asplund, Creative Director, Digitas, Brent Holt, VP/Executive Producer, Grey, Dan Treichel, Creative Director, Barton F. Graff, 9000 and Ari Weiss, Executive Creative Director, BBH.

Each judge selected his or her top 10 picks (in ranking order) and tallied up all votes, which ultimately revealed the top three radio scripts and, this year, the number one pick for the video spot.

"Those scripts then get produced and we send the jury the produced radio spots, which they each listen to and then rank in order of favorite," says Mennuto. "Once again, we put all of the judges’ rankings together to determine which spot lands in first place, which lands in second place and which lands in third. There’s no need to send them back the produced video spot, since there’s only one winning spot, which was determined during the first round of judging."

This year, the winners are: 

1st Place Radio: Zach Slovin -, “Spit Test” (Mixer: Seth Phillips; talent: Deb Sperling)

2nd Place Radio: Jason Gorman - ZQuil, "ZZZQuil" (Mixer: Justin "Sal" Kooy; talent: Robb Webb and Jac Huberman)

3rd Place Radio: Daniel Gray - Guitar Center, "Air Guitar" (Mixer: Collin Blendell; talent Troy Hall)

Honorable Mention Radio: Jen Truss - Sleepy's, "Symphony of Snores" (Mixer: Glen Landrum; talent: Ann Scobie, Shloimy Notik and Jim Conroy)

Video Winner: Vincent Garbellano and Mark Forsman - Fisherman's Throat Lozenges, "Fisherman's Friend" (Mixer: Chris Afzal; director: The Fake Brothers)

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