Ask any awards organiser. Agencies are known for sending their entries at the last minute. And awards organisers provide an extended deadline, with a late entry fee, which makes it more expensive. But nothing changes.
Senthil Kumar, NCD, JWT India, says, “It’s simply because awards are not the primary goal in our business and should not be. There is nothing more important than solving a client’s marketing problem and ensuring the brand’s success. All the time, our creative engines are running fast and hitting the deck hard in different spaces to solve our clients’ marketing problems, across a wide spectrum of categories and geographies. And usually, the awards entries work starts when all regular work is over, after client deadlines are met, post 9 pm on weekdays or on precious weekends. We rope in whoever is available to catch the awards entry deadline.”
Rajiv Rao, NCD, Ogilvy & Mather, concurs, “Most of us start working late; then there is an approval procedure, there is the client and their execution of things take due time. It’s not like we start in January or the beginning of the year. The other thing is that awards happen through the year.”
Does the extra time actually help craft entries better? In some categories, it does. Senthil Kumar notes that in categories like Integrated, Promos, Direct, Branded Content, extra time always help to craft the presentation better, add videos and make an entry stronger.
“But in case of Film and Radio and Print, where the ad is the entry and there is no other supporting material or data required, extra time is not an issue but it always helps,” he explains.
T Gangadhar, MD, MEC India, says, “The volume of collateral for awards can be quite staggering and agencies have every right to wait till the very end to make their submissions. Often, multiple agencies work with the same partners for the collaterals and this can cause delay. While getting more time helps, it is no guarantee for better entries.”
Neeraj Nayar, founder, FAB Awards, London, explains, “If you are entering creative awards it’s quite simply the creative that we are talking about. You can’t overcook the creative entry because it actually ran. You can’t package it any differently. If it’s the case of effectiveness entries, then the effectiveness entry is based on meeting a certain creative standard, return on investment, sales etc.”
He adds, “I don’t, at least in my experience of organising awards for the last 20-odd years, see that extended time allows for better crafting of entries.”
Adlanders also believe last minute entries should not lead to compromise in quality and mistakes.
Senthil Kumar notes, “Of course, last minute work on entries lead to compromise in quality of some entries; mistakes happen when you are compiling many entries in a short span of time. But responsible creative teams always ensure that their best work is given due time and their best shot at glory.”
Are awards organisers to blame for extending ceding to agency requests?
Shashi Sinha, chairperson, Awards Governing Council, Goafest 2013, says, “There is no question of blame, as far as Goafest is concerned it is an award show for the fraternity and by the fraternity hence it becomes difficult to say no once an agency head calls up the organisers. Though now with auditors in place this pressure has gone away from the organisers.”
Nayar adds, “I am going put my awards organiser hat on and going to back all awards organisers. We try to take up a slightly grown up view because we all are part of the same industry, since we feel we perform an important function and important service in the industry. Yes, awards are very important, but clients must come first.”
Shashi Sinha, chairperson, Awards Governing Council, Goafest 2013
“More than the early bird incentive, if the agency reps are made to understand at the pre-award meetings the need for time to ensure no mistakes are made in the processing, verification and back check of the entries, they will all agree to submit in time. This time at Goafest 2013, late entries was not such an acute problem primarily because of the education done by us and the tight check maintained by the auditors.”
Rajiv Rao, NCD, Ogilvy & Mather
“It’s not trade or something; we are talking about work which is like art, and art takes time. Just because there is an early bird entry and I get a discount I am not going finish my work half way and send it. It doesn’t matter. Creative people will take whatever time it takes. They will send it whenever they are ready. Sometimes we may not even send it; there is no point sending something on time if you are not happy with it. If I am not happy with it, I will not send it. I’d rather lose a chance and send it next year. If I miss Cannes, I’ll send it to Spikes.”
T Gangadhar, MD, MEC
“As long as deadlines are reasonable and agencies deliver within the stipulated time (even if at the ‘last minute’), it should not be an issue. There is no doubt that time is a key variable when it comes to anything - not just crafting award entries.”
Neeraj Nayar, founder, FAB Awards
“We tend to offer and extend time for agencies who we feel are genuinely in need of more time to put their awards submissions together. And that’s quite simply based on the fact that they don’t drop everything to fill an award entry. We can extend the deadline for a week or 10 days so that it becomes little easier for agency to meet the deadline. Also, we don’t charge agencies a late fee. The fee remains same even if they submit the entry at the last minute. ”
Senthil Kumar, NCD, JWT
“Most of the big award shows have always shifted the finish line to accommodate late entries, including the coveted Cannes Lions, Spikes Asia and others. This is only because they understand the crazy work pressures in our business and know that the extra time will draw a better response from overworked creative people and encourage many more entries. There is no point in being early birds if you are in with only half a chance. ”