The Trouble with Advertising Awards

It’s awards season. That time of year when all the hard workthat goes into an ad campaign, a website or a TV spot gets reduced to “winner”or “loser”.

Don’t get me wrong – I love awards. I grew up sprinting, shootingand writing for blue ribbons and gold hardware. (According to my mother, ifshe’d given out trophies for housework we’d have had the cleanest house in theworld.) And, of course, I want our work at Balcom recognized. Year in and yearout, B Teamers make amazing things happen for our clients, so they deserve allthe credit in the world. And that’s the problem.

Every year some great work doesn’t win awards.

The TV spot produced on a shoestring budget that droverecord sales. The beautiful website with an equally attractive conversion rate.The campaign for an obscure medical technology that inspired people to startliving again. And that’s just here at Balcom. I’m sure other agencies have their own beautiful “losers”.

I’m just not willing to label work that didn’t get into an awards show as a loser.

I’m not using that word with the account executive whoemailed me a better take on the campaign strategy at four in the morning. Orthe art director who came in on a Monday excited about a movie he saw thatinspired a new visual approach for the campaign. Or the writer who kept workingon headlines after her kids went to bed because she wanted to get it justright. Or the brand manager who fought for the great campaign all the way up tothe C-suite, convinced the sales team to believe in it, and then saw sales blowpast projections. I’m not telling those people their campaign is a loser. Becauseit’s not.

Doing great work is hard work. I salute everyone who decidedthis past year that “good enough” simply wasn’t. Everyone who made the toughcall, the painful edit, the bold stroke. Everyone who slept a little less --and cared a little more -- to make great things happen. You know who you are.And so do your clients.

Let’s be proud of all the great work done last year –whether it won an award or not. 

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