EDITORIAL: Awards recognise our creative talent

If there's an upside to the squalid attempt by the creatives Nigel Roberts and Paul Belford to cheat their way to a Campaign Press Award, it is that they would never have done so unless they felt winning was important.

Of course, Campaign would say that, wouldn't it? After all, this magazine hosts four awards nights of its own. So it's hardly in our interests to see them diminished and debased by recent events.

To those charges we can only plead guilty. But the fact remains that no awards can be successful without the support and enthusiasm of those taking part. And they are.

Why should this be so? The most basic reason is that awards answer a fundamental insecurity among creatives. There's something significant in the fact that despite the best efforts by leading creative directors to cull the number of creative competitions, they continue to proliferate.

In the major ones, the number of entries rises steadily year by year.

This is despite what may be seen as perverse decisions and arbitrary standards set by awards juries but which only add to the compelling interest in the competitions. The fact is that creative awards enable the industry to celebrate itself and its talent. Clients are, by and large, sceptical about them, believing that the only good ads are ones that work.

There's no arguing with this. But it means that awards are of most value when they sustain the industry's feelgood factor and internal morale.

They will always be less successful in enhancing its reputation among clients, most of whom are less than impressed with a roomful of gongs for ads they've never seen or with creative work that fails to sell products or change views.

That's not to say awards don't have an important purpose. They serve a deep-rooted need among creatives for peer approval. Being neither artists nor businesspeople, creatives need perpetual convincing that what they do is worthwhile and valuable. Not only do awards help to maintain creative standards but they breed confidence which attracts those clients who find a high comfort factor in hiring agencies admired by their peers.

Nevertheless, awards will always attract only modest interest beyond the creative community. Good ads that sell product must be the aim. The problem is that these two objectives aren't necessarily mutually inclusive.


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