Every year the industry’s most creative works receive prizes in different competitions. And every year there are the same debates about whether or not these creative awards are useful. There is no universal answer. But there are more or less plausible opinions. I, too, have an opinion on the topic that I will not conceal from you. Before I begin: I think that these competitions undeniably have compelling reasons to exist, and that agencies absolutely should participate in them. Why? I’ll tell you now.
Many opposed to the competitions criticise that numerous works are awarded prizes despite having little to do with “real” advertising. Campaigns that almost never ran, TV commercials that only ran once – at night on a lousy TV station – or websites that only went online just before the deadline. In other words, work that was created more or less exclusively for these competitions. That may be true. But on looking at the winners, it becomes obvious that there are not as many as it seems in the debates. But even if there are some, these submissions serve their purpose.
On the one side, they could be compared to car or fashion shows that produce works that can rarely be admired on the street. These prototype creations permit creative minds to show what they can do when they can go wild. Moreover, these indeed excellent ideas often find their way to the masses after receiving an award. The videos and motives suddenly go viral on social media, get sent around, and collect millions of clicks. The off-road Smart spot, as well as the Renault spot showing a crash test with a sausage, crisp bread, and a baguette are prime examples of this. It would have been a pity, had these unbelievably brilliant works only been enjoyed by juries in competitions.
On the other hand, these award submissions motivate and teach creative minds. All participants get the chance to have their work assessed by the cream of the crop of the industry, and they receive feedback on their work from outsiders. They also get to see their competitors’ exceptional ideas, which, in turn, drives them to become better, more creative, and more imaginative themselves. Stephan Vogel, chief creative officer at Ogilvy & Mather Germany and ADC president, says it in a nutshell: “If there were no Olympic Games, would anyone run 100 meters in under ten seconds?”
In addition to that, the fact that creative work is the agencies’ core task needs to be considered. That’s why creativity, according to surveys, is one of the most important decision criteria when agencies are selected. They look for someone who can deliver innovative ideas, impulses, and ground-breaking thoughts that they themselves could not have come up with. As a result, creative awards serve to demonstrate the industry’s core task. One can thus say that creative awards turn agencies into successful agencies. And that makes them attractive for new creative employees, who, in turn, ensure and increase the quality of the agency.
Alright, it’s time for a conclusion. There will always be two opinions on this subject. Some people will be strictly opposed, while others will passionately fight for it. I think I managed to make my point clear, and I hope that these awards stay important to the industry.
If you disagree, don’t hesitate, just post a comment. Of course, please also comment if you fully agree with me. I would be delighted to see a lively discussion about the pros and cons of the awards emerge right here.
You’re itching to ask a question? Then let me try to answer it:
david.bumiller (at) schindlerparent.de