AND THE WINNER IS...

By Colette Brown 

Let's be honest, the evenings can be long and the categories numerous, but we're lucky in that a lot of the campaigns that are recognised are truly some of the best around; which is why, some may argue, they are short-listed. 

But when the champagne has dried up and the lights come on, what does ‘award winning’ mean when you are back at base?

We chatted to a lot of people across the industry and questioned the value of having a trophy in the cabinet beyond a great night out with your team and an ex-celeb host that probably never made it beyond the bottom half of the alphabet. Does an award really help the business, and how does it impact on the people you employ?

When it comes to attracting talent there probably isn’t a strong argument to suggest that awards really make that much difference. We all know that culture and clients are the biggest pull when someone is shopping around for their next role and if that business happens to have won an award or two, then it’s always a plus but never a deal breaker.

That said, it seems for those whom are consistent winners, it certainly gets you noticed not only with prospective employees but new clients as well. James Gordon-Macintosh from Hope & Glory said “it helps with marketing the agency and getting the name out there and the work talked about, as well as helping with recruitment because others want to work for an agency that is being judged positively at the major awards shows”

Clients of course, also like to see their name in lights. Gordon-Macintosh says “clients get value from the work we do with them winning a gong or two. It supports the recognition they get internally and the esteem in which the PR function is held”

To add to this, Blue Rubicon’s CEO, Gordon Tempest-Hay said “We're in a creative industry and like all creative industries, the number of Lions, Pens, Golds etc you have does matter.  It's a reality that when I ask new business prospects or potential recruits what they know about Blue Rubicon they often reply with; 'I know you win lots of awards.'

It clearly does help. Once those awards start to be won, many agencies see a direct correlation with the ringing of the dog & bone. It can allow the attraction of new clients, they can show case the work they have done for existing ones and in-house teams have the opportunity to highlight some of the great campaigns and people they have sat inside the business. 

Natalie Luke owns Aduro Communications “Entering awards are a double edged sword. On the one hand receiving and being shortlisted for awards is hugely valuable for a business at our stage of growth in terms of raising our profile and for clients current and new to see us as one of the best. They are great for attracting the best talent but equally for rewarding the teams, celebrating together on the night gives a great sense of achievement and a moment in time to reflect and enjoy”

She goes on to say “On the flip side the costs to entry and then to attend on the night can be prohibitive and quite frankly are getting a little out of control. Some have so many categories you question credibility."

Natalie is not alone with this concern. The number of awards evenings may not necessarily be on the up, but the number of categories certainly is and as such, is the enthusiasm and the impact of winning therefore going down?

Tempest-Hay says “the multiplicity of award schemes has resulted in a diminishing impact on their importance - including the ones that should still be regarded as genuinely high status. When anyone seems to be able to win anything it is a reality that it becomes hard for clients and talent to really know which are the benchmarks of quality.  To quote the Incredibles (!) 'When everyone is super, no-one will be'.

In summary, it seems that winning a gong in a creative industry such as ours still carries a lot of weight. It’s a pat on the back for the teams who worked so hard to deliver, a very happy client that the work has been recognised, and it can mean an influx of new business & a helping hand in recruitment. Not too bad for a nights work (!) 

Maybe though it’s time to make them a little more ‘exclusive’ again. Perhaps in doing so, it would mean the status of winning would mean a little more, the prospective talent may want to work for you a little more & the cynicism around it being a numbers game (the more you enter the more likely you are to win) may be a little less. 

Fewer categories may increase the value of a win & at the very least make the evening shorter and allow the Z-List Host to hear him or herself talk over the constant chatter from the audience. 

See you on the next red carpet.

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