Ole Sanders, Producer, Traktor
After making commercials for a few years it becomes increasingly
difficult to go home to the tundra for the Nordic Christmas
There is always the inevitable croak from Aunt Gunnar: ’Are you still
making those dreadful adverts? When are you going to make a proper
movie? I really hated the commercial where you spank the little
So it helps to be able to respond hesitantly: ’Yes, Aunt Gunnar, we are
still making commercials, but we did win another couple of Gold Lions in
Cannes this year!’
And you can sense the little mental machinery ticking away:
Hmmm ... Cannes ... the Riviera ... Ingrid Bergman ... Pernod ... the
good life. Aunt Gunnar goes quiet for another year.
Before we were part of the New Directors Showcase in Cannes in ’96 (and
our name consequently printed in Campaign) we couldn’t get arrested in
London. After that sinful season on the Croisette, and after winning the
Grand Prix in Cannes the year after, we eventually got some scripts for
cut-rate catfood from London; that most sticky and hard-to-crack market
in the world.
Awards are good to remind people of your existence, an occasional flash
of questionable inspiration.
Tim Hearn, Creative director, St Luke’s
Now, I’m the last person to deny myself a good larruping, but as far as
I can see, that’s about all that awards have got going for them. Far
from giving an agency a business edge, I would argue that they have the
opposite effect. The vast majority of new-business prospects coming into
St Luke’s visibly warm to us when they discover that we don’t enter
awards. There is still the feeling out there that agencies are more
concerned with them than with the client’s business. And marketing
directors are employed on the basis of results, not pencils, so it
doesn’t help them.
As far as agencies are concerned, awards are expensive to enter, likely
to foster friction and jealousy within or between departments, and bad
for morale if you don’t win (which you usually don’t, unless you happen
to be on the jury).
They’re backward looking in an industry that should be looking forward
And if you’re confident that your work’s great, you shouldn’t need to
have a bunch of the usual suspects give you a gong to confirm it. OK, as
an excuse to dress up, drink up and throw up, they’re unparalleled. But
frankly, I can do that in the pub. And the food’s better.
Tim Hearn. Gold, 25-metre backstroke (under 10).
Chris Thomas, Managing director, Lowe Lintas
The formula for a successful advertising agency is simple: produce
likeable, memorable creative communications that sell your clients’
products; attract and retain the best people in every discipline and
create a culture which is conducive to good client relationships and
which allows energy, enthusiasm and talent to flourish.
Winning awards - whether they be for creative work, effectiveness, media
or marketing - is, I believe, an essential part of creating a virtuous
circle. Awards form a beacon of excellence that allows agencies not only
to attract the best people but also to retain them. One of the key
motivators for agency people is pride and generally it is awarded work
that we boast of to our mums, to our friends and to our competitors in
I have worked for agencies where the trophy cabinet has been a touch
bare and agencies where the trophy cabinet is well stocked. The
difference in the confidence and pride of staff in an agency that is
winning awards is extraordinary.
But awards are only a part of the virtuous circle. The moment that we
try to make advertising for awards juries and not advertising for our
clients’ customers, the virtuous circle very quickly becomes a vicious
Nick Hastings, Creative director, D’Arcy
Winning awards has benefits for creative departments and for clients.
For creatives, it’s great to be recognised by other people in the
industry. It also makes you more marketable - a big move often follows a
major award - resulting in more wedge.
Awards are also important for clients. I have never been to an awards
ceremony where a client hasn’t really enjoyed picking up awards.
However, awards should not just be about creativity but about
effectiveness. Clients get frustrated if an ad wins an award but proves
a commercial failure for the brand and I sympathise with that. During my
time at CDP we won a gold at D&AD but the ad was a failure in the
marketplace, so the award was a bit vacuous. Therefore, I think the most
meaningful award would be an aggregate of D&AD and IPA - a combination
of pure creative excellence and sheer effectiveness.
In terms of new business, awards raise your profile. However, I don’t
think there is a strong relationship between winning awards and getting
on to a client list. It’s your current work that counts. What I would
add, however, is that there are too many awards which only serves to
devalue them. You could spend a year’s profits entering awards.