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Stop the self-love

20 April 2011 One Comment

Everybody wants to win awards.

They are the holy grail of our industry. The ticket to the big time. The career accelerator.

They are also a sham.

Ever notice how it is the same people, the same agencies, the same style of work that wins year in and year out?

There’s a perfectly good reason for this.

It’s the same people, doing the same damn work, from the same damn agencies that judge the elite competitions year after year after year.

It’s a bit a of a circle jerk, no?

I’m not saying a lot of the award winners don’t deserve it. Some of the stuff I’ve seen is amazing and I wish I had done it myself.

But a lot of the awarded work feels like indie rock to me.

Which means it feels like it’s trying to be something cool and different, but in reality it is just an amped up version of a tired Justin Bieber tune.

It’s the same human dynamic at play. A band makes a song. It’s decent. A few elite people claim that it is, in fact, amazing. This gives permission the non-elites to believe this song is amazing as well. Soon, a whole sub-culture thinks Radiohead is the best band ever.

With advertising you have a few ECDs from ‘hot shops’ judging every year. And they all kind of have the same taste. So they key in on a few things and proclaim those things to be awesome. This allows others in the industry to voice similar opinions without fear of being mocked for their horrible judgment. Next thing you know, work for Axe is being held up as a model for all to follow, instead of being dismissed as juvenile, obvious and over-the-top

Now, all of this could come across as sour grapes, I get it. I’ve been recognized by a few shows over the years, but I do not have the bookshelf full of awards that many creatives dream of at the start of their careers.

I’m okay with this. For me, the real reward comes from a job well done. It comes from knowing that the work I did served my client and my agency the best it could.

But in an industry that grades creatives based on their hardware collection, it would be nice to see some differing points of view brought into the spotlight. One person’s hackery is another’s genius. Who’s to say which creative’s opinion (and barring any real performance measurement, that’s all it is, an opinion) is more valid?

I’ve learned quite a bit from so-called hacks over the years. I find they often bring the freshest perspective to their work, specifically because they are untainted by the never-ending quest for award show glory.

So what say ye, oh honored leaders of the elite advertising award show cabal? Is there room for a couple of hacks on the panel this year?

- TJ Bennett

One Comment »

  • Kohl said:

    Right On TJ!

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