March 22, 2009

Indecent Accolade

Awards are a measurement for the best of any particular field's top work and achievements.

Advertising is an industry that produces so much work over the course of a year that it requires a slew of award shows in order to recognize achievements in the many various categories and channels.

Award shows are the gala balls of the industry and often have pomp, circumstance and drama associated with them. Last year gave us the infamous gripe of Michael Lebowitz who spoke out about credit. This years drama has already started to surface, ill get to that in a second.

Advertising forefather and visionary, David Ogilvy abhorred advertising awards, stating that they had nothing to do with sales or bottom line. He remarked that most awards were trivial, "for best commercial shot on a cloudy day." Ogilvy felt that advertising awards should reflect the effectiveness of the campaign, not it's cleverness or creativity.

In light of a recent spillage of a certain spreadsheet from a major award show's entries, I felt that a dedicated post to awards was in order.

Agencies love awards, its fuel for the fire when going after new clients or brandishing in front of perspective talent that they may be wooing to the agency.

Awards are shiny reminders that the work that comes out of "here" is top notch.

Awards are a great way reward the most creative and successful work, however these days it seems like they have become the ultimate goal.

We are all in the service industry, we service our clients in order to sell more of what they make or to get them more recognition for their brand in the eyes of the public. Our goals and objectives should be the same goals and objectives of our clients, not to fill the space on our own award mantels.

Awards are really nice and when you win, your on top of the world, but the bottom line, especially in today's economy, is to sell sell sell and to make sure creative is communicating the brand story properly.

On March 20th Ad Age broke a story about an accidental list of entries that leaked into the public. It had the names and entries of agencies who submitted work to The One Show. There were 9,795 entries for the awards, at a total cost to the agencies of $3,507,860.

Three and a half million dollars in award entries!

I think that as an industry we need to keep things within perspective and recognize what the ultimate goal is, and that is to service our clients with creativity, dedication and integrity. The work we produce should be focused on the goals of our clients and not the judging panels awarding the bling.

Recessions are a great time to rethink what is truly important and to learn to commit to and appreciate the substance of what we do. It is a time to reflect upon the mistakes we have made and to cut away the fat that we have been carrying.

Perhaps this accidental leakage was no accident at all and a sign of the times and a reminder to all of us that we need to help our clients spend their money more wisely, and to help them re stimulate the economy so that we may get back to filling our bellies with useless things we don't need (joke).

Perhaps the poor unfortunate soul who has most likely been fired for attaching that infamous spreadsheet to the email she sent out is an angel in disguise who has come down to help us fix the error of our ways. Probably not but when viewed as such it makes for a much better story.

I have compiled a list of major ad industry award shows so that you may get a sense of what kind of money is being spent on award shows, imagine what was spent just on the One Show and add that across all of these other major shows:

ACE Awards
ADDY Awards
Advertising Age Awards
Advertising Hall of Achievement
Advertising Hall of Fame
CA Advertising Annual Competition
Clarion Awards
Clio Awards
G.D. Crain Jr. Award
Creative Excellence in Business Advertising
Cresta International Advertising Award
Effie Awards
Ad Age’s Hispanic Creative Advertising Awards
International Advertising Festival at Cannes
International ANDY Awards
International ECHO Awards Competition
Jay Chiat Planning Awards
Mobius Advertising Awards
MPA Kelly Award
New York Festivals
OBIE Awards
One Show Awards
O’Toole Awards
Pro-Comm. Awards Competition
Radio Mercury Awards
Reggie Awards
Webby Awards

Lets all remember in this time of slashed budgets, sparse work, struggling clients and a faltering economy, that what is really important is the substance of what we do and not the bling it gets awarded.


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