Winning an award no longer means that you have the best work. It means that you can afford the maximum number of entries, argues our guest author.
Growing up in advertising in the 1990s, I idolised you. The work you recognised was truly remarkable, and winning an advertising award was no less than winning an Oscar. You brought the whole industry together and celebrated those who did the best work. You created so many pure emotional moments filled with inspiration, motivation, joy, jealousy, friendship and ambition. It made us proud to be in this industry.
Cut to 25 years - what has happened to you?
Today, more versions of you are sprouting faster than mushrooms and, instead, of the quality of work, it’s the costs of entry fees that are going higher every year. The Coronavirus pandemic has given way to another shadow epidemic – the uncontrollable multiplying of awards because online judging and announcement of winners have made things easier than ever before.
Every single media company in this country has at least five awards. The amount of money that some agencies spend on award entries is higher than the GDP of some small countries. (Or, at least the revenue of several small agencies!)
When did you become a money-making business?
In this tough time, when clients are cutting fees, agencies are laying off people and reducing salaries, how can someone charge Rs 30,000 plus taxes for an award that recognises upcoming talent? When you are not holding an award show, there is no physical judging of entries, no fees are paid to judges, anyway, the average award fee (some for awards that people have never heard of) is Rs 18,000 per entry for Indian awards and Rs 80,000 for international awards. What is that money going towards?
When did you become a commodity that anyone can buy?
Winning an award no longer means that you have the best work. It means that you can afford the maximum number of entries. Awards are for sale and the deeper your pocket, the better your results. It’s not an award then, is it? It’s an auction.
Imagine if this happened in the real world. The Ambanis and Bezoses of the world would have closets full of Nobel Prizes, wouldn’t they? Apart from the entry fees, every case study requires a couple of lakhs to make. Not to mention, the time cost of getting all this done. In this scenario, how is winning awards fair, when one agency enters 200 entries and the other can afford only five?
When did you stop adding value?
The other day, during a pitch, we told the client that we won two One Show pencils. The client, who had never heard about The One Show, said that’s great, but we are going to give the other agency a higher score because it won 20 Bang Bang Awards. Two versus 20, it’s a simple calculation, isn’t it? And, who can blame the client? When there’s a new award show at every corner, how does one keep track of which one is worth what and which one matters?
The adman in me is truly disappointed about where we are headed. But worry not, Dear Awards, the entrepreneur in me sees an opportunity. Here’s my proposal for a new award show. It’s called ’The Award for all Awards’. And below are the categories:
1. The Best Indian Award Show
2. The Best International Award Show
3. The Best Digital Award Show
4. The Best Creative Award Show
5. The Best Low-budget Award Show
6. The Best Award Show for People Under 30
7. The Best ’Women to Watch’ Award Show
8. The Best ’Marketing Leaders’ Award Show
9. The Best Award Show that doesn’t call itself an Award Show
10. The Best Trophy
11. The Best Judges
12. The Best Name of an Award Show
13. The Best Master of Ceremony
14. The Best Award Show Promotion AV
15. The Best Award Show started in August 2020
16. The Best Award Show that a minimum of 50 people have heard of
And finally, the Grand Prix for the best from the winners of the awards above.
What do you think, Dear Awards? Shall we get the entries, sponsorships and incessant promotions going?
Yours Sincerely and Most Awarded,
The author is founder and chief creative officer at Famous Innovations.