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Now that the award season is over, and prizes have been handed out in categories such as Left Handed Golf-Club Dealers and Manufacturers of Savoury Meats, two questions beckon: Does the advertising business need so many awards? And why are they handed out by product categories?

However bountiful they seem, awards make sense for so subjective an industry. Juries of peers appreciate good advertising in ways clients can't, won't or don't.

Handing awards out by product category is hard to justify. The judges at the awards shows, the advertising industry and even the trade press do not specialize by product categories.

The final judges, the TV viewers, certainly don't retain by categories. They see different commercials as individual beings.

And often the commercials they retain are in different categories. Seen most are the phone company ads, recalled most are the fast-food spots and most outstanding are the soft drink spots.

Team One Co-Chairman Scott Gil- bert, who has picked up more than his share of awards for Lexus advertising, remains forever vigilant against category complacency. Why? "Because my commercials are not just competing with rival autos'," he insists. "What I'm really up against is everything else that's out there."

Dave Vadehra is president of Video Storyboard Tests, New York.

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