There has been a lot written about awards recently, sparked by this year's recent Cannes Festival and Publicis Groupe's decision to pull out of all awards for 365 days. This has created a flurry of commentators falling into two camps generating articles for those precious clicks (sort of like me now too I guess).
For what is worth, here is my two pennies/cents/0000.000012 Bitcoins on the subject.
Firstly let's look at those who've come out and said "awards don't matter". They tend to be by Senior members of staff, who ironically are highly awarded. It could be argued that they're jaded by the award scene and have seen it for what it really is. For me though it is easy for those who've benefited from the award scene, from the pay rises and opportunities it brings, to turn their backs on it all. Call it Awarded Privilege if you want. I think those us who've been lucky to win awards and had it impact our careers remember what they can do for some, not all, in the industry.
The second camp are those who are poking fun at the agencies that are stepping away from the award scene. Trying to lure the Creative talent to their agencies instead. To be fair this is part of the light hearted ribbing that goes on in any industry and to be expected. W+K have made a statement about how they felt pulling out of the awards would impact their most junior talent and how they felt to deny them that chance would be going against what W+K stand for.
For me pulling out of the awards is dealing with the symptom not the cause of the problem when it comes to rewarding talent.
Awards should be a chance for Creatives and Clients to step outside their agency bubbles and see their work in new context. For the work to be reviewed by industry peers. To validate or to highlight where the work could have been made better. A chance for everyone to see the bigger picture. Only this doesn't happen. Agencies would step out of their little bubble and right into another one. The award industry. Which over the time has become even more closed off than the agency bubble. The scene became obscene.
Awards help the industry look outside itself, that should be a good thing. Rather than pulling out we need to look at which awards are of merit to our industry. Reducing the amount of energy the industry spends trying to get noticed.
We need to make sure we don't forget the power of an award for a young creative. It can transform their career, it can give them the confidence to keep going. It just doesn't need to be a Cannes award anymore. We need to look more widely on how we validate the work we're creating. From how we reward staff and how we include clients more.
There is a need to separate the messy world of the 'Award Industry' from awarding good work.
For me, I feel like a change is needed. Perhaps all agencies should submit a percentage of their award funds to create something new. Something no one can enter but only nominated by external selectors. Something no one can enter but anyone can win. Removing that drive to craft the perfect award entry and butter up the judging panel.
Until then, my focus will be to make sure I recognise and reward the long hours, dedication and passion that my team give. My aim is to help all my team get where they want to be, rewards or not.