Awards: Are They Important to an Agency?

Awards are nice–but bottom line results are better

It’s wintertime, which means it’s Oscar, Grammy, and Golden Globe awards season. Let’s think about that. What happens if Leonardo DiCaprio wins an award or two? His stock rises further and he gains even more popularity. He starts dating yet another beautiful swimsuit model. His asking price increases yet again. And in all likelihood, he’s offered another amazing movie role. Life is good.

In the advertising and marketing communications world, as in the world of entertainment, you can’t seem to turn the corner without running into an awards competition. There are Addys, Clios, One Show awards, MarCom awards, and many others. It is estimated that there are more than 30 competitions. The question of the day: Are these really important to an agency?

Agencies small and large

For big national agencies, awards can be almost as important as bonuses (and the expensive sports cars and European vacations those bonuses cover). They are displayed in company lobbies, grand presentations are made to clients, and full-page ads are taken out in the trades announcing the news. Some agencies even trot them out to new business prospects; others even have staff that spends a great deal of time submitting award entries. Meanwhile, those at smaller agencies typically enjoy awards with a bit less fanfare. Either way, for folks personally involved in the winning entry, awards are recognition of hard work and dedication.

Inside an agency, there are two camps—those who love them and those who can’t be bothered (but don’t mind when they win). Those who love them are usually creative folks and younger support staffers who get excited about the chance of winning. Those who really can’t be bothered tend to be those who have won awards earlier in their careers and don’t need the validation or adulation. They keep the creative departments happy and motivated. And agencies that win awards tend to keep the best creative people on staff. This in turn benefits clients by having top-notch talent tending to their business.

Clients get on board

How do clients feel about awards? It varies by client. Over the years, we have had some clients who really enjoy winning them and some who don’t, preferring to remain anonymous. But, in most cases, awards keep the marketing team excited, energized, and driven. Awards look great in corporate board rooms. Senior management is able to tout this news to their clients and peers. And, they can potentially garner some public relations and social media coverage.

Effectiveness of winning an advertising award

Do awards help registers ring or increase the overall effectiveness of a campaign? They provide both clients and agencies nice internal and external goodwill among their peers. And they recognize the strategic and creative contributions from both parties. But they rarely, if ever, have any significant effect on the bottom line. In fact, most agencies would trade a prestigious award for great sales results any day of the week.

So, you may not get the beautiful swimsuit model like Leonardo DiCaprio. But Leo can’t earn a statuette for creating and produce an award-winning :30 TV spot like you, can he?

The Design Channel has the answers

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