As Cannes Lions is still on the full swing, it is time for the annual debate of the significance of advertising competitions. Those, who have won actually something, stress the importance and the correlation between awarded works and the business success. Those, who did not got awarded, categorize competitions as mere beauty competitions which awards only artsy-fartsy scam work.
Although never won in Cannes (yet), I still tend to fall more in the favour of competitions for the following reasons (including certain caveats as well):
1. Advertising awards are mostly internal rewards
We advertising people appear to be self-absorbed, self-confident and full of ourselves. The reality is that we are self-bashing, self-critical and always unhappy with our work. Many times we need someone from the outside to tell that work is sometimes quite ok. And there is nothing wrong in getting recognition once a year from the hard work you have done.
Of course, we should always remember to tell our colleagues when they have done good job as well. And for the managers: it is good to give raises for your best talent also before they threat to leave your company.
Competition is always competition. For certain types of people that competition brings out best out of them. Also for certain people, the competition is the best motivation. Not for the all though.
2. The events are a good way to strengthen the client relationship.
Majority of clients could not care a less about trophies you have. The awards are part of the reputation you have, but not even the main part of that. Awards are not the new business tool that many claim they are. However being on those events is a good opportunity to strengthen your client relationship. It is nice to be in more relaxed setting and celebrate your annual achievements.
If you happen to win, remember that big part of the victory is because of the client. Without daring client you are not able to do daring work. Remember to give respect to the client as well.
3. Truly groundbreaking work gets always recognition.
I do not believe in making work to win awards. First of all,that approach probably will not win any awards. Second, if you do that, you are totally in the wrong business. At the end of the day we are in the business of seducing consumers to buy more stuff from the brands we work with. If you do not get kick out of that, I recommend changing jobs.
I believe in making work to solve client´s problems in the most effective & creative way. And there is high correlation between those ways. If you aim for that and keep pushing the envelope, the fame will follow eventually. I bet that there will be no weak work in this year´s list of Titanium Lions winners. At least last year all the awarded work was outstanding. You should concentrate your efforts on doing work like that. Making scam work or trivial non-profit campaigns just gets you further away from the real mastery.
Not all the good work gets awarded though. Nearly all the advertising competitions tend to favor certain types of creativity. This might make you live in an illusion, that it is the only type of creativity there is. As a planner, I always try to find the most effective solution for the consumers. Sometimes the best solution might be so straightforward and simple that it is not awarded because of that. Then your reward materializes on the cash register.
However, if you always concentrate on solving the brand problems on the most relevant & creative way possible, you will get plenty of opportunities to win awards along the road.
4. Competition entry requires marketing talent
It requires talent to make your entry pop out among thousands of other entries. You have to engage during the first seconds of your case video. You have to be simple and make your point across fast. You have to delight the jury with great insight and sparkling creativity. Also you have to make sure your PR works before the competition. If people recognize your work, it has much more better changes to succeed in the competition.
All the things mentioned before are part of the capabilities good agency should have and be selling to its customers. If you cannot do enticing case video, can you do good marketing?
Advertising awards should be reward for doing groundbreaking work, not the ultimate goal.