There’s no dearth of creative (and other) awards in advertising, and the number of shows only keep growing. While some claim to be differentiated, most are ‘creative’ awards that reward creativity, as they should. But there is a school of thought which believes that awards are not a barometer anymore for a creative person’s reputation. In the words of DDB CCO Amir Kassaei, if you win awards, it means that you are good at just that – winning awards.
Rahul Mathew, creative head, DDB Mudra West, explains, “I don’t think the reputation of creatives ever hinged on awards alone. None of the big names in the industry today are respected for the awards they have won. But at the same time it’s not that they don’t have awards to show. Awards may have helped throw some limelight the way of creatives. But reputation is never built on awards alone. It’s through constantly and consistently putting out work that creates conversation. I don’t think anyone hires senior people for their awards alone. Juniors, maybe yes, because it shows the potential they have and tells you what they have for you to mould. Awards are about applauding great ideas. And that’s what we’re in the business for.”
Rahul Jauhari, CCO, Rediffusion Y&R, agrees with Mathew. He says, “Yes awards do impact your reputation within the industry, the network. But real long-term creative reputation comes from the big campaigns you do, the brands you build. Period.”
Lending a planner’s perspective, S Subramanyeswar, national planning director, Lowe Lintas, believes that until about five years ago, creatives may have been judged according to the number of awards won, but underlines that the situation has changed. He explains, “It was a case in the past because there were not many outlets other than participating in awards and getting acknowledged there. I’d say this was the case till about five years ago, where the benchmark was creative awards. In fact it may be one for some people now too. The way some of the creative selections would happen – people would write in their profile how many awards they have won and CDs and agencies would get swayed by it.”
On the change now, he adds, “Over the last few years the outlets to express your creativity have improved significantly. You don’t need to participate in an awards show to be acknowledged for some work. Technology has democraticised it and
created multiple platforms for people to express their
But awards do make a difference, especially when it’s on established brands and on the global stage. Josy Paul, chairman and chief creative officer, BBDO India, notes that the recent Grand Prix bagged by the agency at Cannes Lions, has made clients, amongst others, proud.
“When we won the Grand Prix this year at Cannes for our mainstream work for a big global brand, I received calls and messages from thousands of people across the world. These include mails from superstar marketers like Sheryl Sandberg (from Facebook) and Marc Pritchard (from P&G) and other well known global and Indian leaders. Sandberg is sharing the work on Facebook with millions of her followers and talking about it at marketing forums. International media have stood up and applauded this campaign. This has never happened to me before. Our current clients are proud of our achievement, and we are getting calls from so many potential clients. I feel something has changed,” says Paul.
Malvika Mehra, ex-NCD, Grey Group India, surmises, “Awards never harm. It’s a validation of talent in a way. If you have a piece of work that’s started conversations and part of pop culture, that’s sometimes even bigger. If there’s some appreciation coming from any quarter – not only advertising folk, what I call the real world, that’s more important and people should be looking for that. Real work and awards should not be mutually exclusive. Like the work done recently on Volvo (the Super Bowl intervention) for example – real work on a real brief, solving a real client problem that ‘also’ went ahead and won a Grand Prix at Cannes this year. Or the insightful stuff that BBDO India did for P&G Whisper with ‘Touch the pickle’ that ‘happened to’ totally smash the Glass Lions this year? Which idiotic creative is ‘dying’ to do ‘patli-gali’ (scam) in this day
Rahul Mathew, creative head, DDB Mudra West
“I don’t believe that a person who wins awards can’t do good real work. And that a person who does good real work can’t win awards. If it doesn’t happen, it’s because of laziness on the part of that individual. Of course, what’s up for debate is what qualifies as good real work. Today media muscle is often being mistaken as effectiveness and memorability.”
Rahul Jauhari, CCO, Rediffusion Y&R
“I don’t think it’ll be fair to say that award winners aren’t good at real work. I think it’s a matter of choice and focus. Some prefer to chase awards, some chase big brand work. A rare few manage to crack both.”
S Subramanyeswar, national planning director, Lowe Lintas
“Lot of people take notice when an interesting piece of work happens, and one doesn’t need to wait for an awards show for work to be judged. By the time the award show happens the work has been acknowledged already. That’s a good sign and encouraging sign for more people to come up with useful work that works.”
Malvika Mehra, ex-NCD, Grey Group India
“A self-respecting creative will also tell you this – the joy of delivering on real brand work, doing something that earns you, your client’s respect and becomes part of a social conversation (even if it sadly does not win awards) far outweighs the two-minute glory of holding that glittering trophy on stage. The trick is to be able to do both. It’s easier said than done of course.”
Josy Paul, chairman and chief creative officer, BBDO India
“Our current clients are proud of our achievement, and we are getting calls from so many potential clients. I feel something has changed. I guess winning a Grand Prix at the world’s biggest most popular and prestigious award show is not like winning any other creative award. It is more important, significant and life-altering than that.”