I recently spent 4 days on a jury judging D&AD TV & Cinema.

There were about 1,500 ads from Shanghai, Taiwan, Bangkok, Israel, USA, South America, the middle east, ex member-states of the old USSR, you name it.

There were 22 people on the jury, about half from the UK.

The others were from Paris, New York, Toronto, Buenos Aires, Australia, Colorado, you name it.

So it was a very interesting mix.

Ads from all around the world, judged by people from all around the world.

Truly international.

And I found that difficult.

Especially when we got to the discussion stage.

Because each member of the jury would begin talking about an ad by saying, “I like it.”

Or they’d say, “I don’t like.”

Whether it was an American talking about a Chinese ad, or a German talking about a Brazilian ad, or a Canadian talking about a Russian ad.

“I like it.”

“I don’t like it.”

I found that difficult because it’s one of the first things I teach students not to do.

When we’re simply a consumer, we react to advertising.

That’s all we need to do, just react.

So we can be subjective: we don’t have to think about it.

But when we become a professional we can’t do that.

We can’t carry on reacting without thinking.

Now we have to be in charge of how other people react.

We have to make them react in a certain way.

And to do that we have to be OBjective not SUBjective.

We have to remove ourselves and our personal tastes.

We’re not simply experiencing a piece of advertising anymore.

Now we’re doing a job.

Now we’re professionals.

We have to think about what we’re doing.

So we no longer say, “I like it’ or “I don’t like it”.

Now we must always begin a criticism with, “It works because….”.

Or, “It doesn’t work because…..”.

Using this language forces us to fill in the second part of the sentence.

It forces us to back up our opinion.

It forces us to explain.

And that forces us to think.

And that forces us to behave like professionals.

Objectively, not subjectively.

That’s why I always encourage students to train their minds by always using the correct language.

 “I like it” is wrong on two counts.

Number one, it talks about “I” and that’s wrong.

We are not the target market, so we’re not important.

Number two, it says “like it”.

That’s a feeling, not a thought.

So that expression has no place in an objective discussion about a piece of work.

On the other hand, “It works because….” Is right on three counts.

Number one: “It”, we’re talking about the piece of work, not just someone’s opinion.

Number two: “works”, we’re talking about the function it’s supposed to deliver, not how it makes us feel.

Number three: “because”, we have to back up what we say, with reasoned argument.


And it’s very hard to have a rational debate with an emotional response, such as “I like it” or “I don’t like it.”