Should advertising awards be scrapped?

This article was featured in the April 22nd, 2013 issue of Business Standard


The Creative Awards scene is getting murkier every year.

A few rotten eggs are raising a stink. So should we throw the baby out with the baby water?

Most creative industries, like music and the movies, have creative awards that have stood the test of time. Adver-tising creative awards, too have been around for a long time. At the global level, some of the most coveted awards have been around for more than 50 years. The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, established in 1954, is among the oldest. The Effie Awards, one of the most respected advertising effectiveness awards, is now in its 45th year. So, awards shouldn’t be wished away. Most successful awards are also money-spinners for their owner-sponsors, who will fight tooth and nail to ensure their continuity.

What makes such ad awards resilient, despite the many controversies, allegations and mismanagement? It is the ad agencies that are keeping them alive. After all, ad agencies hanker for creative awards for several reasons. Being on the top of the awards leagues table enhances their chances of winning new business, attracts better creative talent and instills a spirit of competition. At least, that is the theory.

There is nothing wrong with creative awards per se. If awards help agencies to become more creative, their clients should benefit as well. But clients don’t always win. We have seen how the judging criteria often do not include either the strategy that went behind the creativity or the results, in terms of sales or market share gain. To that extent, the constituting of ‘effectiveness awards’ seems to be a more robust step and better aligned to promote clients’ objectives.

The structure or the mode of judging and administering awards will not change overnight. But the industry needs to start somewhere. A good place would be to increase entry fees dramatically. High fees will ensure that the selection of ads to be entered is handled at the senior-most level, not just at the agency but also at the clients’ end. The number of entries would decline and each entry would have a better chance of a serious evaluation by the jury.

Secondly, the rubber-stamped sign-offs from the clients should be made mandatory. That would ensure greater senior management involvement in the entries sent by their agencies.

Let us not forget the role of the jury. Why should they comprise of only creative professionals from the industry? Why can we not invite experienced clients, media planners, and even business leaders to the panel? The entries will then get judged from different angles rather than a purely subjective creativity-led evaluation process.

May be it is time to create an entirely new category to allow agencies to enter ads that are today classified as scam. For this section, the agency-client relationship wouldn’t be mandatory. Any agency would be free to work on any brand – whether they handle it or not, under this category. This will give creatives complete, guiltless freedom to indulge.

(Note: the opinion/views are purely personal based on putting facts together)

This blog post has been written by PRANESH MISRA, Chairman & Managing Director, Brandscapes Worldwide.

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About Brandscapes Worldwide

Brandscapes specializes in marketing analytics and insight consulting for consumer goods, services and the retail sectors. We leverage the power of advanced data mining tools and the practical marketing and communication planning expertise to distil actionable marketing insights.
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1 Response to Should advertising awards be scrapped?

  1. I would start by saying that I do think there is still a place in our industry for awards. But first and foremost, the work for these awards has to be effective for the client.

    As for the idea of scam awards, I think the problem with these are that they are in most instances not demonstrating anything that a client would find of value. More importantly, as we’ve seen with the recent spate of ads created exclusively for scam awards, they’ve actually proven more damaging to clients than useful.

    We need to be showing clients that as an industry we are responsible and capable of delivering campaigns and strategies, regardless of media channel that work. Scam ads I fear just serve to persuade clients that agencies can’t be trusted and by default, some great work will never see the light of day.

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