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Ideas. Insights. Inspiration.

The (Un)Importance of Award Shows

Creative awards aren't important.

There, I said it.

Of course, it's easy for me to say it: I don't work at a creative agency.

Or any agency at all, in fact.

I've spent most of my career as a "client", and while I think my past agency partners would vouch for the fact that I'll champion creative work and be willing to put my name, reputation and job on the line for a great idea, they'll also tell you the idea needs to be "on brief"...

... and that my creative briefs will state the objectives are to drive revenue, profit, market share, awareness, trial, or brand love, not to win creative awards. This makes sense, because, in my entire career to date, I've never been paid based on how many creative awards the teams I've led have won. I have been compensated based on achieving all that other stuff, though.

To be clear, I'm not saying CREATIVITY isn't important.

Creativity is critical. It might be one of the few remaining ways that businesses have to differentiate themselves as their products and services become more and more indistinguishable from their competitors.

I love creative work and celebrate it often, as anyone who reads the ADdicted features on my blog can attest.

But the ultimate purpose of any advertisement is to persuade a consumer to buy, and if that's not the goal, it's not an advertisement, it's art.

There's nothing wrong with art... it just shouldn't be paid for from the marketing budget.

So, again, I'll say... creative awards aren't important.

Of course, it's easy for me to say it: I don't work at a creative agency.

But it sure is refreshing to have a creative agency say it.

Kudos to my friends at Zulu Alpha Kilo for creating the ad below (which ran in the Spring 2022 edition of Strategy Magazine) and saying what responsible clients have always believed: results are more important than awards.


Disclosure: I know, really like, and really respect several people who work at Zulu Alpha Kilo. But I know dozens of people at dozens of agencies across North America, and if I didn't highlight a piece of work I really liked just because I knew, really liked, and really respected people who worked at the agency that created it, I wouldn't be reviewing much work at all.

On that note, thank you to Mike and Kelly at Z.A.K. for sending me a high-rez version of the ad after I published this post, which is what you now see above. Believe me, it looks much better than the version that resulted from me ripping those two pages out of the magazine, scanning them, assembling them into a two-page spread using Google Slides, and then downloading the result as a JPEG.


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