CLOSE-UP: Live Issue - Best of the Best

Jenny Watts investigates if there is a good reason for another advertising award.

Just when you thought there was no room for another awards scheme, the IPA is launching a new initiative, "Best of the Best", to honour the UK's top creatives.

It is the first time in the IPA's 85-year history that the body has celebrated creativity so directly.

The new emphasis is the work of the IPA's president, Bruce Haines, who clearly reckons it's long overdue.

"Part of the original objective for my presidency was to put creativity back into the centre of the IPA," Haines says. "I found it amazing that the trade body which recognises our industry hasn't recognised the product of our industry, and those who have contributed to it."

The awards scheme will see a judging panel, headed by Sir Alan Parker, making its choice from individuals who have performed outstandingly - and consistently - across the year's major creative awards. The categories span the creative disciplines, from the year's best copywriter to its best typographer or best agency TV producer.

It's quite an exhaustive process and Haines wants it to be taken seriously by the industry. Parker and his jurors will monitor all the leading awards schemes already recognised, including the Campaign Awards, D&AD, Cannes and The One Show.

The top three winners from each of these will be shortlisted using a points system: three points for top prize, two for second and one for third.

One key point of difference from other major creative awards is that the shortlisted entrants' agencies will then be asked to answer supplementary questions about the work, covering its effectiveness, media spend and how it has contributed to the value of the brand's equity.

The final selection process will be chaired by jurors from across the existing awards schemes.

The newness of the awards could also work in their favour. Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R's joint executive creative director, Robert Campbell, says: "I have a problem with a lot of awards schemes in that they're not terribly well focused and haven't moved with the times."

However, Rooney Carruthers, a founder of Vallance Carruthers Coleman Priest, questions whether the initiative has the requisite kudos to set it apart and earn it respect. He is also under-whelmed by the idea of another awards scheme. "People don't need another one on their lists," he says.

Tim Delaney, the chairman of Leagas Delaney, says: "I'm not convinced that the advertising industry needs another set of creative awards." However, he adds: "If it does anything more to convince clients of the effectiveness of creativity, then it must be a good thing."

One big plus to the new scheme is that there is no cost of entry, which will answer some of the most enduring gripes about creative awards; that they're too expensive to enter, and are thinly veiled moneymaking exercises (although there will be sponsorship opportunities for each award).

There is consensus, however, that Haines is right to attempt to put creativity at the heart of the IPA, from where it has been too long absent.


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