Why Winning Awards Might Actually Be Good For Clients

As we come into awards season and I watch my creative partners across our workstations judge a number of different shows I start reflecting on the meaning of Lions, Clios, Pencils, Effies, and other advertising trophies.

 “Awards” has long been a dirty word amongst clients, and I used to believe far too much hoopla was applied to this season. Now that I have my own agency I have a different point of view.

Let’s first start by admitting that the awards shows are an industry celebrating itself. Sure, that might lead to some misguided ambitions from creatives. And sure, many awards have been given to infamous fake or scam ads. And sure, in the days of limited creative output the chase for shiny objects might have muddied the true objective of many a TV or print ad. 

But today business is different; many submissions are case studies including results. Even Cannes, for example, has evolved from a flashy, back-slapping booze fest into a global crossroads and forum for sharing these case studies. So perhaps those glittering objects aren’t so shallow and tinged with narcissism after all. In fact, I now recommend clients embrace the fact that agencies seek awards because in the end they will benefit too.




Start with psychology - clients should apply the same rigor that it takes to motivate consumers and their retail partners to also encourage their agency partners. Clients spend vast amounts of time examining what makes their consumers tick, and what will motivate their retailers. The retail incentive of course is largely financial.

On the other hand, very little time is ever applied to incentivizing and maximizing creative thought leadership and innovation.  Creative rather than financial incentives are what really drive agencies, from creative directors to junior managers. While the rewards for clients may not be immediately clear, in the end this is a win-win for them.

When creatives feel they can get recognition they work exponentially harder. That means all night. At home. On the weekends. On their free time. Thinking about your business.

Agencies will bring proactive ideas - when they’re locked into a space they know and love, ideas will flow like gravy.

I subscribe to the theory that anyone can have a good idea every once in a while but very few produce good ideas all the time. In a world where everything communicates, you want the kinds of people that can add exponential creative power to each and every brief.

Don’t forget the old 80/20 rule. There are a lot of good creatives out there but not many great ones. You want the great ones on your business. With this 1099 generation and the current talent war against start up and tech companies like Google, agencies need to work especially hard to keep the best talent on your business and motivated. Awards are a way to keep them put and incentivized with no real extra cost to you.

Great clients like Coke and Unilever know how to motivate their agencies and agency creatives.  And Apple created its territory by celebrating the creative minded innovators in culture.

In a time where innovation is paramount, companies with the best creative minds will ultimately win. With a motivated agency working on your behalf the good thing is that those minds don’t need to be a part of your own headcount. So let them have their gold and you’ll reap your own rewards.

Next story loading loading..