Our agency is not even 18 months old, so it’s fair to say we were very excited to get shortlisted for Agency Team of the Year at tonight's Campaign Media Awards.
There’s a negative vibe around awards in the advertising industry at the moment and I feel it’s important to challenge that – before the awards dinner in case we look like conceited fools patting our backs or commiserating on so many "oh so nearlies" after the event.
It’s definitely true that chasing glory can divert some people from doing good work for clients, so much so that some agencies have resorted to Fake News in order to dupe the Cannes Lions judges.
And much was made last year of Publicis Groupe’s decision to take a year off from marketing and awards in order to invest millions in a glorified chatbot called Marcel – in no way a publicity stunt to capitalise on an easy target and divert attention from a poor set of results.
But this week, whilst cycling home, it occurred to me why awards are so bloody important – and for some reason I’d never thought like this about them before.
Five points that made me think this way:
1) Doing potential award-winning work with energised media owners creates huge additional value for clients.
We believe that proper, transparent collaboration is critical to great work. The problem is that in my previous experiences such work started from the point of view of an agency commercial action plan (the good old CAP) – one idea being that partnerships generate additional fees and significant additional media value that can go into the so called value pot without the client (or even the account teams) having a clue. So conversations started from the wrong place.
But when everyone thinks they may be creating award-winning work, and the conversations are conducted transparently and purely in the interest of the work, you get much, much more physical and mental support all round. And that makes the work even better.
2) Writing awards create case studies – you cover off two birds with one stone
If you force yourselves to enter awards you are properly running the rule over your work (you quickly know which ones are potential winners). So it’s time that’s well invested. The easier they are to write the better the work is.
3) Winning awards make clients famous and proud of the work they’ve done
We all know a famous client is a happy client who’s likely to stay with you or even in her or his role for a little bit longer.
4) Having judged a number of awards - winners don’t win without proving strong results and business value.
Those that claim it’s just a corrupt/vanity exercise have got the wrong end of the stick. Awards have to recognise work that delivered measurable business return for clients. It is not about click through, views or impressions. Judges reward proper, valuable returns.
5) Momentum matters
As a small agency it is everything, win or lose, and being shortlisted alone puts big smiles on people's faces. Good work always requires hard work, having those efforts recognised by others makes getting the best from the team even easier next time around.
With all of the above in mind, awards are bloody important, and when agency groups decide to abstain I find it very hard to understand how a decision like that is remotely in anyone’s best interests. It’s certainly not done with clients’ needs in mind for the reasons above.
And when clients refuse to support agencies in entering awards you also quickly understand the value of the so-called "partnership".
Clients must be as invested in their agency’s success as agencies must be in there own.
What about your talent? There’s a lot of talent being stifled in the networks, how would you feel if you were denied the opportunity to celebrate great work with your client.
That’s not to mention the fact that the awards are an important revenue stream that supports journalism, and in the case of the IPA and D&AD – two organisations we’re proud to support and who do incredibly important work for our sector – helps to fund investment in our futures.
Shunning awards is both flippant and reckless.
So for that reason, we’ll remain focused on winning awards – not because we’re looking to squeeze more money out of clients, not because we’re on a personal vanity trip, but because what’s good for our clients is good for us too.
Win or lose, being involved matters.
Henry Daglish is founder of Bountiful Cow