At last count there were 27 major award shows and hundreds of niche categories that DDB and our competitors could enter. Not only are agency awards cabinets overflowing, but the plethora of shows is creating and fuelling an award micro-industry that’s losing credibility and meaning as it spirals out of control. The Kinsale Sharks? AdFest Thailand? Andys USA? Echoes, Caples, Mobius, Epica, El Ojo, Clios? No thanks.
Agencies enter these and many more awards shows drawn by the bright lights of recognised success, and global ranking systems such as The Gunn Report and Directory’s Big Won rankings, but they mean nothing to most people, certainly not to the majority of our New Zealand clients.
But don’t get me wrong, we do value awards. They play a crucial role in the industry and for our people. They are an incentive to us all to strive for the new edge of creativity, to do original work and forge new territory, that our clients get the advantage from. A bit of healthy competition to win is good, we all get better as a result. Awards also encourage creative thinking to occur in new frontiers such as digital, social and data. They are a currency for our people, a mark of success and one of the benchmarks of performance. And there’s no doubt an agency that wins awards finds it easier to attract the best talent.
Awards are also a helpful benchmark for clients assessing agencies. Perhaps more importantly they encourage us all to stop and celebrate the work we’ve created with our clients, the results we’ve generated and hopefully something we’ve added to society. Awards can provide lightness and celebration in an industry renowned for extreme commitment and work ethic.
But 27 different awards shows? We need to start recognising quality over quantity and get off the awards merry-go-round to focus on the work at hand, and the awards that are important to us and our clients.
At DDB New Zealand we value the two local shows that matter; Axis for creativity, Effies for effectiveness. And we’ve chosen a handful of international shows that we think are the best of the best, that set a true benchmark (the likes of D&AD, Cannes Lions and One Show), that we’ll continue to enter. We’ve also embraced a few newer shows that encourage new thinking (the likes of the Mashies, Webbys and the Facebook Awards).
We’ll obviously try and be recognised at the shows we believe play a valuable role. We’ll be stoked to see a new pencil or a Lion on the mantel, but if we’re missing a couple of Sharks and allowing others to have a few extra headlines, that’s okay with us.
- Justin Mowday is CEO of DDB New Zealand.