The turf is fresh and we pore over our squad of campaigns to see which will get selected for contention. It's the first big gathering of 2020. There’s always an element of experimentation, wondering which of your most recent campaigns are going to perform in front of the judges; whether some of the older ones have still got the legs to compete, tactically placing your entries around the field.
Almost always, there's the usual frenzy on deadline day where one turns into Harry Redknapp: managing a budget, deciding whether one campaign is best-suited in Not for Profit or Cause Related, trying to convince the FD to open up the coffers for one more last-minute entry ('Blanket coverage, two minutes with Phil and Holly!) and working against the clock to complete the paperwork (or, more truthfully, trying to find an elusive evaluation document with the screen-grab of the Harry Wallop tweet that someone – invariably oneself – hastily saved in forgotten file on the server).
Come the awards night you can go in beaming and cracking jokes like Jurgen Klopp and leave looking like an embittered Neil Warnock after 4-0 defeat. Never assume you've got a divine right to be there in the first place. However, to even to get nominated is recognition that a team did a job they can all be proud of.
Over the course of "the season" we'll do new work that we hope will find its way into contention, or deliver something that becomes the first name on the team sheet.
Why awards matter?
A while ago I was asked “Why do you even enter awards?” Here’s an elaboration to my original answer as to why awards matter:
Ambition is a good thing
Whenever a brief comes in, irrespective of brand or budget, I plan with the ambition that the response will be strong enough to win an award. It’s a great way to stress test insight, strategy, the originality of the creative, and how you will activate and evaluate.
We are in a competitive industry
Creatives and strategists in agencies across the UK are constantly raising the bar with inspired work. Awards are a way to keep you on your toes to continue producing original, high-impact results. Even if you don’t win or get shortlisted, you can still learn from the success of others and aim to do better next time. There is plenty of exceptional work out there that deserves recognition, especially when you know how much time, effort and risk may have been invested in it.
Awards breed success
Once a team or agency wins an award, they develop a desire to repeat it – and especially so if the finance director makes the mistake of handing over the company card to celebrate the win.
Awards help to grow business
Trust me, prospective clients pay attention to who is doing well. Many times this year we've been told a pitch stage that agencies were selected by checking awards lists. Often, it’s only through being shortlisted that in-house teams become aware of the agency behind a campaign they loved. For existing clients, a win is great way to shout about you internally .
It’s a great way to get to know your peers
For all the competition talk, people in the industry get on and have lots of respect for the work others do. Yet we spend most of our working lives in meetings, writing decks or trying to crack a brief at unseemly hours. This is a moment to enjoy the fruits of your labour. Most of my friends in the industry I first met in the bar at awards functions. Tip: should you come away empty handed, have just enough money for the taxi home, then find someone in good spirits waving a gold block in the air. 'I just wanted to say congratu...oh, thank you. I'll have a double', does the trick. And repeat.
Article written by W's Mark Perkins.
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