Thinking

Creative Awards in Advertising

Creative Awards in Advertising

Disclaimer: This article will feature a laboured analogy about bricklaying, liberal but ironic use of inverted commas to throw shade on industry pretentiousness and use of the name “Kelvin” more times than its peak in the long hot summer of ’76.

You could argue that advertising awards are great. That they tell us what great work looks like and let it have its moment in the sunshine. That they add a glimmer of glamour to a creative industry that seems to be being dulled by the day. That they’re what we’ve always done and why should we change? That they give clients an excuse to be daring, even if no-one in the real world sees or benefits from the work. That they help the legless orphans of Uzbekistan go trampolining, using AR on smartphones they can’t afford, but who cares because they generated 3 billion media impressions in two days while creating a cultural moment that was impossible to ignore (oh, please). That they’re the marker of the true talent in our industry and that they should be held, holy grail like as the arbiters of creative excellence. I could go on.

But I won’t. Instead, I will argue that to truly realise why awards have to exist and why creative people have to win them, you have to separate them from the actual creative ideas and see them for what they really are.

A necessary nonsense.

What am I on about?

Well, let’s put it this way.

I would wager that the best creative team in London doesn’t work at a Droga 5 or an Adam & Eve/DDB.

I bet they’re 35 and hemmed into a small, call-centre-esque desk space somewhere at a less than lauded agency in Victoria or Kings Cross. And you’ll never know their names (let’s call them Susan & Kelvin though, for the purposes of this article). Because poor old Susan and Kelvin have never won any awards (not their fault – the management of their agency doesn’t care about awards, it cares about satisfying its global paymasters and using phrases like “real-time dynamic content optimisation”). They would love to get out of this hellhole, but they can’t, because no-one has any reliable, industry-approved evidence that they’re any good.

You see, the creative person’s life’s work is entirely subjective and we poor, insecure, highly paid Creative Leaders generally need a panel of our peers to tell us what’s good and who has promise.

And that, my ad writing friends, is why, as a Creative, awards, particularly early in your career, are a necessary nonsense.

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