Why we should all want to win creative awards

Why we want to win creative awards

Creative awards season is nearly upon us again. And therefore I imagine that we’ll also reopen the debate as to whether awards are a good thing or a bad thing, whether agencies should strive for them or deride them.

I’ve got a bit sick in recent years of the amount of presentations I’ve been in where agencies have been at great pains to stress to clients that 'we don’t care about awards here' (normally delivered over a slide listing the awards the agency has recently won that they, of course, don’t care about).

One agency even went as far as to make a massive arty statue of all the awards they didn’t care about (and definitely didn’t want to prominently display) – and then displayed it in the most prominent part of their reception for 18 months to prove just how little it didn’t want people to notice the awards that they didn’t care about.

Let me start by saying that no one seems to have a problem with effectiveness awards. The left-brained, maths & stats fests that prove just how sensible us sensitive agency flowers are. It is the creative awards that we seem to have to keep apologising for wanting to win.

However, I just don’t know why agencies (or clients for that matter) are so at pains to deride creative awards - unless we’re talking about the shameless, jury-fodder of spec ads that are created solely to run once during re-runs of 'The Equaliser' at 3am on Grampian. We’ve all seen those, forget those.

I’m talking about great, real creative work – winning creative awards.

Let me make a simple statement. Winning awards is ace. There, I’ve said it. Awards are brilliant. There, I’ve said it again. And it’s not hard to prove why.

1. Awards are great for business
The case for proving that creative excellence is linked to commercial effectiveness is undeniable. It’s proven - starting with Peter Field & Les Binet’s work in 2007, which was augmented in 2010 with their updated work with Thinkbox/IPA. The study essentially showed that most creatively awarded advertising campaigns are 11 times more efficient at delivering business success – sales, share, profit or loyalty. End of debate. We should strive to win awards for the campaigns we do because creative awards tend to equal commercial effectiveness.

2. Awards are great for morale
We all love to win things. We all like accolades, from a ribbon for the best Easter bonnet to a Cannes Lion. They make us feel good. They help us to judge where we are on a trajectory. Any footballer will tell you that the accolade of their peers means the most. Awards make us feel good – individually, collectively. And this goes as much for clients (I’ve been one) as it does for agencies. Everyone likes to be recognised and praised.

3. Awards are great for retention and recruitment of staff
The best work is made by the best people. The best people want to work on the best clients and the best work. So therefore getting the best people is the key to making the best work, and vice versa. Awards, like it or not, are the currency of our industry. Creatives like to win them, and will gravitate towards the clients and agencies where they can keep winning them. Therefore the agencies that win awards tend to be the agencies that keep winning awards because these tend to attract the best people to do the best work. Getting the best creative teams is the key to getting the best creative work, unsurprisingly.

So let’s stop pretending and let’s stop apologising.

Because the first, fundamental truth is that we all love awards. We’re lying if we say we don’t.

I really hope we win some this year at our agency. Can’t wait to dust off the whistle when we do.

Kevin is executive planning director at mcgarrybowen London. Read more from him in our Library.

The Marketing Society Awards for Excellence 2014 take place on 5 June at the Hilton, London. Watch highlights from last year's awards in our Cinema and register your interest in booking a table at the awards.