Saturday July 21, 2012
The dilemma of awards will not go away
By HARMANDAR SINGH
IN advertising, the onslaught of awards is best described in one word: overload.
Apart from the fact that there is probably one show every two months, and one every month on the global circuit, victory fatigue is not an issue with winners. Which brings me to the subject of the politics of award shows.
You probably heard it all before. You've heard of people buying tables or being sponsors at awards nights to get an award.
You've heard of joint winners when compromises have to be reached; bestowing three golds for a single category is not unusual these days. What if you won gold last year and you'll get a silver this year? Will you go for the show? Isn't it a step down for you?
You've heard of thundering judges who steam roll their way just to win.
The everybody wants to win' world of awards judging is as dark as the intrigue of secret societies. You can't fault jury members whose job survival depends on winning more awards.
I know of scamsters those who do semi-fictitious work just for the sake of award shows who have gone on to get illustrious jobs in the advertising capitals of the world.
The latest dirt on awards shows happened recently when one of the world's biggest agency networks were in the bull pen slugging it out with mine is bigger than yours' frenzy.
WPP chief Sir Martin Sorrell claimed that media jury judges at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity were pressured into block voting.
He said he had heard rumours of jury members pressured into voting for selected entries and dismissing quality pieces of work from the judging process without due cause.
In response, Amir Kassaei, chief creative officer of DDB Worldwide, a rival network, turned the tables on Sorrell by accusing WPP judges of strategically shooting down Omnicom entries.
Saying he was not speaking on the behalf of the Omnicom Group but only for DDB, he told Sorrell to choose his words carefully because WPP was “briefed to kill Omnicom ideas. I have since been notified by no fewer than 12 jury members that people from other holding companies were briefed to kill Omnicom, especially BBDO, DDB and TBWA, and this is a fact.”
His comments had the full support of Keith Reinhard, chairman emeritus of DDB Worldwide, who added: “I have to agree with everything Kassaei has said.”
Cannes is about politics and positioning. Who does not want a piece of fame? The question is: at what price?
At the end of the day, an award show is also a business.
Imagine the nightmare for organisers when a large awards participant decides to boycott a show!
Once upon a time, Ogilvy & Mather almost did that when Neil French, its global creative chief and recipient of numerous creative awards, called for a boycott of Cannes.
In a world of instant gratification, the sad fact remains that people are willing to pay for fame.
And the beat goes on...
Harmandar Singh is regional CEO of Sledgehammer Communications (M) Sdn Bhd and president of the International Advertising Association's Malaysian chapter.