Best Yet 2013

presented by The Irish Times in association with ICAD



Report by Pearse McCaughey


I guessed it was going to be a weird and wonderful couple of days the moment I spotted the multi-coloured sign that adorned the side of our hotel. It simply read: We’re All Mad Here.

Well, this is Vienna, the city of Sigmund Freud…

We were here with our media partner and sponsor, The Irish Times, as defending champions of BestYET (Best Young European Team).


Clockwise: Mikey Fleming, Pearse McCaughey, Paddy Thunder, Donal O’Higgins, Sam Moorhead

Aidan Bolger, of The Irish Times, a great friend of ICAD and an old hand at BestYET, was positive about our chances of retaining that title against the best of the best in Europe.

Our creative representatives consisted of Paddy Thunder (Art Director, Rothco Advertising), Donal O’Higgins (Copywriter with ICAN) and Mikey Fleming (Art Director) and Sam Moorhead (Copywriter) both with Cawley Nea\TBWA.

It also happened to be the weekend of the Life Ball, the international aids fundraiser, and Vienna was in lock-down in honour of its mega-guests Elton John and Bill Clinton.

As it happened our hotel was the main hangout for the Drag Queen/Transexual contingent attending the Ball. This added to the gaiety of the event and meant that Paddy and Donal, both renowned for their proclivity for flamboyant orange suits, could almost blend in.

The hotel itself was wonderfully quirky. A hipster heaven– a bit like sleeping in an Urban Outfitters.

There was no time to check-in, as we had to go directly to The Hub, a nearby arts space that would serve as HQ for the event. This ruthless Austrian efficiency would be the pattern for the two days and ensured that everything ran like clockwork.

Following a hasty lunch, Vinzenz Stimpfl-Abele, the Head of the Jury, greeted the 20 creative teams from 10 countries and laid out the ground rules for the competition.

It was then the turn of the Mirabell client, Viktoria Radler, to reveal the brief for the competition. It was for Mozartkugein, a well-known Austrian brand of chocolate.

During the briefing there was some back-of-the-class sniggers at the mention of ‘Mozart balls’ but we learned that Mozartkugein are an institution in Austria since 1890, particularly popular among a female audience of over 55s.

In other words, the ideal gift for your maiden aunt or as last minute airport pickup for departing tourists.

The brief was to use press to target a younger audience by making Mozartkugein relevant to them. This was a tricky brief as the client wanted to remain true to the brand’s traditional values.


Sam and Mikey hard at work

Following the briefing the teams got straight to work. There was a palpable air of tension in the room from the very beginning and this rose as the deadline loomed.

Many of the creative teams (including ours) opted out of that evening’s social activity at a local bowling alley. They chose instead to pull an all-nighter working on ideas.

This left the field clear for Aidan Bolger to win the bowling event for Ireland! We considered this a good omen…

The following day, Friday, got off to an early start with teams on site from 8.30am. As the work progressed, teams could consult various judges for advice and guidance.

The competition restricts participants to pen and paper. The Internet can be used to research but ultimately only marker roughs were accepted.

I found this particularly refreshing in a world where the ability to filch from the Internet has made slick roughs often blind us from looking at core ideas.

I was also struck by the standard of finish achieved by many of the scamps created by the various teams. There was great energy and vitality in the simple line drawings submitted that helped the ideas to jump out.

Another pleasant surprise was the standard of presentation that was demonstrated. Each team had two nerve-shredding minutes to submit their work to the judges and their fellow contestants.


Donal and Paddy present their work

Following the presentations the panel of international judges convened to vote in private.

At this point let me draw a veil on the proceedings and just say that it was one of the fairest and most objective judging processes that I have ever experienced.

As you know our Paddy and Donal took gold while Mikey and Sam went home with bronze.

In his summation, the Head of the Jury, Vinzenz Stimpfl-Abele, declared that this year had the highest standard of creativity so far in the competition.


The winners – well done guys!

For ICAD and The Irish Times, this was a spectacular achievement. But this was not just a win for the teams that represented us this year in Vienna or last year in Croatia.

This is a win for ICAD. It shows that when we live by our mission to foster and promote creative talent we will be rewarded.

Next year the competition will be held here in Dublin (much to the delight of our Elaine McDevitt). What odds for us completing the hat trick? I know who my money’s on…

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