THE international judges for this year's 4As creative awards will be taken on a familiarisation tour of the territory before starting to assess the 5,000 entries. Kitty Lun, co-chairman of the creative awards committee, said: ''The idea is to let the judges see the reality of life in Hong Kong. We want to show them the lifestyles of the local people. ''If the judges know how people really live in Sha Tin or Tsuen Wan, for example, it should help them understand local advertising better.'' The move is intended to end the perennial issue of ''cultural context'' in assessing advertisements, but will do nothing to resolve the deeper controversy over whether to use absolute or comparative standards in the judging. The 4As' stated objectives illustrate the dichotomy, but offer no solutions. They aim simultaneously to ''provide recognition to creative excellence in Hong Kong's advertising industry'' and ''to continue to upgrade the creative standards in Hong Kong's advertising''. But in the absence of an agreed emphasis or written rules, they remain distinctively different means to the same end - better advertising. Ms Lun, executive creative director at McCann-Erickson, said all judging necessarily included a subjective element, but added that she would call on the judging panel to strive for ''collective subjectivity''. The 4As would not seek to dictate how tough or flexible the judges should be, she said. But she tended towards absolute standards by adding that the whole point of having international judges was to compare Hong Kong's best work against world-class standards. By contrast, Stoney Mudd , McCann's Asia-Pacific senior vice-president, said: ''In my view, there should at least be an equal balance between recognition and standards. ''If you have to fall on one side or the other, I would fall on the side of recognising what is best in the Hong Kong work.'' The choice between setting absolute or comparative standards should be seen in the context of the overall purpose - that of stimulating the young talent in the industry, he said. If there was no chance of winning anything because the standards were unrealistically high, there would be little or no motivation for local talent, he said. The 4As' award structure has evolved over the past decade: now, in each category, judges can award one gold, two silver and up to three bronze awards, together with an unlimited number of finalist's certificates. But Mr Mudd said: ''We are still missing a mechanism that properly recognises work that is deserving but does not reach the top six. ''In certain areas like . . . alcoholic beverages, really good work has gone unrecognised and unrewarded in some years.'' The awards' committee has made two further significant changes for 1994. A Client Award has been introduced, allowing those who approve, and ultimately pay for the creative excellence, to have a say. Also the ''craft awards'' status for Chinese-language advertisements has been changed: the wording on the entry form has been clarified. and the gold award winners in the Best Chinese TV, Print, Poster and Radio categories will be automatically included in the final judging for the Kam Fan, the 4As' highest annual award. All international judges, except one, are award-winning creative directors still active in the industry. The exception is Walter Lurzer, who published Lurzer's Archive, the industry's creative ''bible''.