Who cares about award shows?

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Anyone who says ad awards are just about ego is naïve. It’s not a coincidence that the most successful agencies win the most prestigious awards? Did you know an industry-wide global study, conducted by Leo Burnett, showed that 82% of award winning campaigns also met or exceeded business objectives? This figure is consistent with previous study findings (78% in 1985, 86% in 1994). Still think the award shows are a waste of money? Consider these fun facts.

Clients love awards. Bestow that little gold statue and watch them carry it from office to office as if it were their firstborn. I’ve had clients call me to make sure we’re entering their work. Clients don’t want their agency to talk about winning awards, but they sure want their work to win them. They know awards mean something. Awards verify that their advertising is special, which means they’re special.

Creative people sometimes appreciate awards. Okay, we love, worship and lust for awards. The reason is genetic, like serial killers, it’s not our fault. Creatives have a similar psychological mindset (sickness) to that of people in show business. We’re extremely insecure. We feel like we have no talent yet somehow we have fooled everyone, at least for the time being. Affirmation is imperative to a creative person’s well being. Why should you care Mr. Agency Owner? It is a statistical fact that when you lose an employee it costs 150% of their salary to replace them. Creative people don’t leave agencies where they are winning awards. Save money. Enter the shows.

Account service people love awards. (Though they’ll never admit it. I’ve tortured some and even with bamboo shoots under their fingernails they wouldn’t confess). That’s okay, I understand. They don’t want people to think they’re shallow. Frankly, I don’t understand why creative shows don’t include the account person in the credits list. It doesn’t seem right that those who have as much to do with great work surviving and actually running receive no acknowledgement. It behooves we creatives to take up the slack. Let us bring public praise to these unsung heroes. Well, maybe not public, but the next time you happen to be alone with one, mumble some kind of appreciation for their small contribution to your well-deserved fame.

Awards build the leading agencies of tomorrow. During the golden age of advertising the leaders of our industry all hailed from the Big Apple. Without the shows, agencies in cities like San Francisco and Minneapolis would have never gotten a second look by national advertisers. It is the same today. Fallon, Goodby, Weiden, and Crispin all became our undisputed leaders because of their awards.

Awards get us out of creative slumps. The last few years the award shows have shown our industry has suffered creatively. Years of recession, dot-com bombs and a shift of power from agency to client have taken its toll. The slide in quality hasn’t been taken lightly and the shows have kept reality in high definition. Award shows make us try harder to do better than the following year. This year’s CA Annual just arrived. I’m pleased to say this past year’s work shows signs that we may be on a creative upswing. Award shows are not about ego they’re about excellence. Those in our business who pan awards remind me of Varuca Salt, the bratty rich kid in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I’ll never forget Willy Wonka’s reply to Varuca Salt’s reproof, “Snozberry! Whoever heard of a Snozberry!?” Squeezing Varuca’s caustic lips together Wonka quietly states, “We are the music makers and we are dreamers of the dreams.”
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