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03
Apr
09

The Cowardly Lions


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Writen by idbranding

August 14, 2008

 

Interesting. The latest issue of Creativity magazine, published by Advertising Age, is their annual awards show issue. It’s a summary of the major award shows, who won which, and then a tally of awards by agency and creative director.

Kind of silly, frankly. Not that I’m against awards–I love it when we win them. I just don’t think they warrant a whole magazine issue.

What’s interesting though is the number of articles written by judges and other advertising luminaries complaining about sham award show entries. Sometimes these are pieces entered into award shows that had no real client (as in, the agency did the work, went to the business, showed them the work, and got them to agree to let the agency run it untouched). Sometimes these ads actually had a real client but the ad only ran once.

Now, why would a client only run an ad once? Well, apparently clients are doing this in order to enter multiple ads in the shows, and then the ones which actually win get to run for real with a big media budget behind them.

Two shams. Disturbing? Yes. Common? Apparently. Although I’d never heard of the whole idea of client-sanctioned ad testing via the award shows before. The previous sham I know about. I’ve run a client-less ad in my day. (Actually, a poster series. It didn’t win an award.)

My question is, how on earth could the authors of these complaint-filled articles be surprised? After all, it’s the industry itself which breeds this whole mess.

In the first case, the client-less ads, sorry, but this is what you get when you hire, promote, and set salaries based on the number of awards a creative has won. These people are not stupid. If their career depends upon winning awards, they’re going to find a way to collect the metal. Yet these creatives are demonstrating they don’t have the courage to build the relationship with the best clients in the world in order to do the best work in the world. And that’s fairly cowardly.

In the second case, the one where the client is an accomplice in running the ad and then using the award shows as a focus group, well, what self-respecting agency would allow such humiliation? I’d personally rather resign the business than let some frightened bunny rabbit coax me into letting the other creative directors of the world determine what’s good work for my client’s brand. Once again, cowardly.

And, finally, why would the industry complain when its own skewed values and overemphasis on awards have turned into a dark, medieval catacomb of conspiracy, deceit and decay?

I’ve always been proud of the awards my teams have won, but I have never been fooled about the true value of the shiny heads and pencils. It’s useful in this business to recognize accomplishments, but foolish to put too much value in other people’s opinions. And its downright despicable to mistake awards for the real purpose of our business, which is to enrich people’s lives with brands that mean something. And to grow our clients’ businesses.

It’s time to articulate, as an industry, just what awards should mean and what role they should play. But the problem is really the fault of the industry, not the cowards who are gaming it.

– Doug

Source: http://idology.wordpress.com/2008/08/14/the-cowardly-lions/#comment-267

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