What’s not to like about Goafest? It’s in Goa, it’s on the beach (mostly) and it gives you the opportunity to meet a thousand odd folks from your community in one place, giving you the chance to interact and showcase your work.
But for agencies which have to fork out the consequent expenses related to sending delegates, the last year has been an opportunity, to use a dog-eared phrase, to “reset” their priorities. Because it’s not as easy as saying that they will be selective in sending entries to the awards. That’s a sure-fire recipe for internal conflicts as far as deciding which work deserves to go.
If an overriding obsession with awards was pointed out as the industry’s Achilles heel till two years back, the new-found pragmatism has been gaining credence in the last one year. Ravi Deshpande says that having weathered a tough year like 2009, they are clear about prioritising budgets in favour of more ‘people’ focussed activities, and they are being more selective than ever in the work that is being sent to award shows in general. It’s interesting then to note that while some of the big networked agencies are assessing their need to be in Goa this year; smaller, independent agencies see immense value in taking part in large numbers.
They believe they need the validation from their peers to further their creds, attract new talent while retaining their existing people. Its perhaps recognising this trend, that Cannes has introduced a new category in 2010 called Independent Agency of the Year, which will be awarded to the agency that would have amassed the most points across all entry sections at the festival. In fact, a little while after the announcement, the Cannes committee had to issue a statement rephrasing their definition of ‘independent agency’ when they clarified that the participation was restricted to agencies that were not associated with any holding company or listed entity.
Last year, when the recession hit, most agencies sought to downplay the number of entries they were sending to award shows in general. So, if there has been one clear casualty of the war against agency costs, it has been the sentiment against award shows. The obvious question this raises is on the future for awards shows.
Does this mean we are likely to see the gradual erosion of relevance of creative award shows? I am inclined to believe that will be the case in a few years.
Awards that measure effectiveness and contribute to a tangible sense of RoI to clients are likely to become a far more relevant benchmark of an agency’s credentials. That’s a badge of honour that clients are likely to take far more seriously. That sentiment may be a challenge for agency chiefs who need to constantly manage internal pressures alongside agency bottomlines but it’s probably what we are increasingly likely to witness in the future.
Bindu Nair Maitra is deputy editor, Campaign India. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org