Ad awards are wondrous things. They are a perk of the job for overworked ad men, with beachside locales and well-laden bars. They are a bait for new clients. They are a forum to air views, take on the competition and, of course, celebrate good work. They help market the ad business and agency and client brands. Yet, through the years, some top agencies have withdrawn from certain awards. Two creative big guns, McCann Erickson India and Lowe India, will not be taking part in Goafest 2008. The former may be watching how the new merged awards pan out this year, the latter has said it believes in letting good work do the talking. Both valid reasons. In general, though, why do agencies anywhere pull out? Here are some possible reasons, drawn from the long history of ad awards across markets:
a) I don’t believe I need the vindication of awards, and I am confident that good work is enough to do the talking
b) There has been a dramatic change in the awards structure, and I suspect the new format is rigged or not progressive. Also, there are new categories I find senseless, and the categories I’m rooting for have not been added
c) Deep down, I don’t believe I have done enough good work this year; it is better not to be present than not win against the big boys
d) My agency is part of a global network and they are watching to see how we fare. They value winning at awards (and, since we may not do well, it makes sense not to be there)
e) It is too expensive and time-consuming to take part in so many awards. I would rather focus resources on participating in the Olympics of advertising—Cannes
f) Non-participation could sabotage the awards process itself, which was flawed anyway
g) There are too many lobbies at this awards, and I am being dragged in the middle. I don’t have the best relationship with some important jury members
h) Some of my big accounts are up for review, and losing could snap my prized relationship with client X
i) Focus is critical to winning awards, and some agencies plan their awards strategy a year ahead. The problem is, we have been more involved in new business pitches, M&A deals, this year
j) Scam ads are changing form, and a one-off ad for a big brand—or a campaign for a big brand where the motivation is not market results but medals—are par for the course now. Sadly, I don’t have such clients, or those I have are not willing to play ball.
Marion Arathoon is Mint’s advertising editor.
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