AWARD’s Jonathan Kneebone: Just what the industry needs. A new approach to ranking.

AWARD’s Jonathan Kneebone: Just what the industry needs. A new approach to ranking.

A new creative ranking index has been incorporated into this year’s AWARD Awards – APAC’s most prestigious creative awards program. Determined by a slew of top industry creatives, it aims to provide a fairer and more robust list of the top 10 agencies and individuals across the region. Speaking on behalf of the AWARD Council, Jonathan Kneebone outlines why a new industry standard is needed.


Film critic Eddie Harrison must have felt quite the man.

With a stinging criticism of Paddington 2 – saying ‘long-term fans will find this outing too much to bear’ – he single-handedly knocked the movie’s Rotten Tomatoes 100% Fresh rating down to 99%.

The previously perfect movie lost its ranking as one of the most critically acclaimed films – and with that it joined the also-rans.

People love a pecking order it seems – and being able to say you are the best at what you do is human nature in a semi-competitive industry like advertising. Or movie-making.

It feels strange to compare movies that are as poles apart as Barbie and The Zone of Interest and determine that Jonathan Glazer is better or worse than Greta Gerwig as a result.

And yet, being number one seems to matter. Or at least, not being number two or more matters.

There are numerous ways to determine what work is the hottest.

We can leave it to juries, expert critics, the general public, sales, effectiveness or strategic originality to decide.

But when it comes to judging who is the hottest creatively, it seems there’s nothing as definitive as, say, who crosses the line first in a 100-metre race.

The advertising industry falls into the same category as high divers, surfers and ice dancers. Where Judges combine degree of difficulty with a more interpretive artistic impression.

And so, when ranking creative teams, agencies, production companies or marketers, it felt like we needed a more definitive approach than just adding up who won the most awards.

To counter the situation where the company that enters the most or pays the most wins the most creative agency of the year prize, AWARD pioneered a new Special Award category.

And last year, it proved its metal.

An expert jury determined that Bear Meets Eagle on Fire deserved the Agency of the Year mantle for its mantelpiece.

And not because it paid more money to enter the show. But because the quality of its entries was that bit stronger and fresher. And a panel of internationally renowned judges made that call.

So this year, AWARD is taking things a step further by creating a top ten for many of its Special Award categories. The jury determining who comes out on top will also agree a definitive ranking from one to ten.

These lists have a habit of getting noticed, and in the case of AWARD, the rankings will be showcased publicly for a full year, with each body of creative work published in the AWARD Annual.

So bragging rights will be very much there for the taking – and they’ll last long term.

While some may say this gives a lot of power to the jury who decide these rankings, the AWARD Council is keen to create a new industry standard – one that sees the best creative talent judged by those who know what it takes to develop world-class creative work.

One where creativity is appreciated and judged rather than evaluated by counting up points based on who’s paid more to enter.

I am not sure that we’ll be inviting Eddie Harrison to judge.

But one thing is certain.

This new initiative will make for a very lively award night – and a truly exciting end to AWARD’s signature creative festival, This Way Up, in 2024.

As the saying goes, you’ve got to be in it to win it.

Entries for the 45th AWARD Awards close 16 February.