The Surprise Element. HSMAI received more than 1,200 submissions globally for the 2013 Adrian Awards. From the entries, it presented 46 Gold Adrian Awards in advertising, 87 in digital marketing, and 130 in public relations. Platinum winners were selected from the most outstanding Gold Award entries, and the show’s highest merit winners, Best of Show, were chosen from the Platinum frontrunners. Platinum and Best of Show are not publicized before the event, so not everyone knows who will be walking up on stage during the ceremony.

• The Editing. Just under 30 awards (out of more than 260) were given out throughout the evening. And HSMAI event organizers switched out the presenters, who are its members, after every award category and invited last year’s Lifetime Award winners to present this year’s winners.

The Big Switch. Instead of serving a banquet meal during the awards, HSMAI decided to make the cocktail hour the main meal. In the Marriott’s huge foyers on the eighth and ninth floors, plenty of appetizers were served, both passed and in stations, in an elegant way, easily filling the dinner bill. The awards ceremony was dessert only (one note: make this clear to attendees beforehand or when registering upon arrival). The leisurely pace of the reception provided really good networking time. After all, these gatherings are not so much about who is being honored, but about networking with all the important people who are coming to honor, hoping they will be honored someday! And it’s way harder to find people after they have been seated. And because courses weren’t being served during the awards, there was no clanking of plates on trays.

The Main Event. HSMAI turned the tables, so to speak, with its ballroom set as well, using rectangular tables with five seats on each side and one at the back end. I don’t think I’ve been to an awards banquet that wasn’t rounds! But it made perfect sense: Clearly it was aimed at directing everyone’s attention to the stage. It worked!  And the beautifully decorated tables were preset with buckets of champagne, champagne glasses, and dessert plates with elegantly styled platters of petit fours.