Patrick Collister: Are Awards Important?

Patrick Collister: Are Awards Important?

An open letter to CEOs and CFOs by Patrick Collister (above left), editor, The Caples Awards.


Well, given that this is a plug for The Caples Awards 2019, I’m hardly going to say no, am I?

That said, it is a good question – especially now when the backlash against awards continues and when, I’m told, many awards shows are struggling for entries.

It all started when Publicis, in a brilliant piece of self-promotion, pulled out noisily from all awards shows for a year. That gave bean-counters everywhere the opportunity to sound off about the expense of creative baubles.

And to savage awards budgets, which they duly did.

However, just because some accountants say awards don’t matter doesn’t actually mean awards don’t matter. Actually, competitions like The Caples matter more than ever. And here’s why.

Awards are good for morale

All agencies talk about the importance of creativity. How many actually mean it?

A decent awards budget sends a signal to your people that you care about your product.

Win at The Caples and your creative people won’t just feel good about themselves, they’ll feel good about you.

Since most creative people feel they have been crapped on all year, their one night in the spotlight is the emotional reward for every other idea turned down or pecked to death.

It’s pay-back for the long, long hours they work. Sixty, seventy hours a week most weeks.

Why do they do this? Because creative people are qualitatively driven. Like everyone, they have tasks to complete but what drives them is how well they complete them.

A Caples award is not just explicit recognition by their peers, the jury, of the high standards they set themselves but implicit recognition by you of the value of creativity.

Awards save you money

If talented people think they can win awards, then they’ll stay where they are. They won’t look around for other jobs. Hearsay reports that when Publicis pulled out of awards, some of their brighter creative sparks pulled out of Publicis.

If you reduce churn, by whatever means, you are reducing costs. And, with staff turnover in the UK estimated by the IPA in 2017 to be 31.9%, think of your awards budget as self-financing rather than as overhead.

Awards are an advertisement for the agency

Entering awards sends a signal to your clients that you think you’ve done a pretty good job on their behalf.

Most clients will say they’re not interested in awards. Well,
they may not be interested in what you win, be it a Caples Gold or a Cannes Lion, but they do like to know that you do win. It reassures them they made a good choice of agency. You’re not total crap.

When they move on, and remember the average tenure of the CMO’s role is just four years, they will use your work to illustrate their work. Either enhancing or diminishing your reputation each time.

Also, the best marketers know that if they have big problems to solve, they need the best people to solve them. And the best people are almost always to be found in agencies that win awards.

Awards are an advertisement for advertising

Awards shows like The Caples reward innovation. New ways of tackling problems. New applications of technology, which, a year or two down the track, other, more cautious brands will embrace.

See “Auto Ads” for from CHE Proximity Australia, which was voted ‘Best In Show’ at the 2018 Caples Awards.

Or take a look at “SelfieSTIX” out of Colenso BBDO Auckland for Mars Petfoods.

Further evidence that advertising is moving away from putting messages in front of people to getting them involved in experiences.

It whacked up sales of Dentastix by 25%.

And that’s something else about The Caples. It’s a show that honours work that works. Ideas that actually sell stuff. It is, after all, what the whole business is about. David Ogilvy didn’t write “We engage…or else.” Or even “We entertain…or else.” He wrote, “We sell…or else.”

Patrick Collister: Are Awards Important?

Award-winning work works better

And talking of work that works, there is now overwhelming proof evidence that campaigns that get prizes also get results.

“The Case for Creativity” by James Hurman and “The Long and the Short of It” by Les Binet and Peter Field show that award-winning ideas are six times more successful in the marketplace than unawarded ideas.

McDonald’s have said that their award-winning campaigns are, on average, 54% more successful against their business objectives. Even McKinsey’s have piled in with the data to explain how creativity in advertising generates real business value.

Winning at The Caples isn’t a vanity project. It’s proof of effectiveness.

Awards inspire 

Typefaces may change and styles may come and go but great work remains great down the years. Which is why The Caples 2019 will be appearing in hard-back form within eight weeks of the show.

A book, by golly!

It will still be on shelves as a reference tool and as a source of inspiration long after websites have evolved into pageless platforms.

For the winners, it is immortality. But immortality comes at a cost. £300 per entry, as a matter of fact.

Patrick Collister: Are Awards Important?

Image 1: Patrick Collister with Andre Sallowicz with one of several Caples Golds he picked up in 2018 for his work at Colenso BBDO for Pedigree Petfoods.

Image 2: The 2018 Caples Awards were judged in the upstairs room of a London pub. In 2019, the jury is convening in the famous Groucho Club.