Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The clash between making money and recognizing creativity

(Note: I've made this point before, and I don't think anybody agrees with me. Good thing I'm used to people not agreeing with me.)

Awards season is soon upon us.

Part of what the DC Addy Committee is doing to promote it this year is producing a series of short videos featuring past Addy winners. Mary Fletcher Jones produced them and I think she did a great job. She even did one featuring us and another with just Katie.

I saw one of the other videos the other day, and it included a bit that I really disagree with. (Or, more properly, with which I really disagree.)

A local CD with an agency that does very good work and wins plenty of awards was advising people to enter their work in as many categories as possible. "In some ways, it's a numbers game . . . don't enter one piece in one category. If you can have it in color, black and white, full page, half page, illustration, copy - there are a lot of ways to win . . . sometimes it helps your total."

I'll go along with the copy and illustration part. And I believe a single piece of work ought to be entered as single and as part of a campaign if applicable. But the rest of it is just bogus.

See, I don't think the point of entering the Addy Awards - or any show - should be to win as many awards as you can for the same piece of work. Honestly, I think if you win an award for a piece of work as a color ad, a black and white ad, a magazine ad, a newspaper ad, a poster, bus shelter and subway car card, you've still just earned one award. It's not just about your total.

The problem is that the Ad Club depends on proceeds from the Addy Awards for a major chunk of its funding for the year. So the more times you enter, the more income the Ad Club gets. And, unless people want to pay a hell of a lot more in dues and events fees, or the Ad Club can find another source of income, the math isn't going to change.

(Other shows that allow multiple entries are in it for the cash, so they certainly have no motivation to limit the number of entries, although some of the big national ones are strict on this.)

It's a conflict. The Ad Club wants to honor the best work and wants an Addy Award to have value, but it also has some very real budget issues to manage.

And then again, if a lot of Addy Awards don't get handed out, people who enter tend to bitch. As if the point is to get an award, not win an award. Big difference.

Last year, we won a pair of Addys for a poster campaign we did for the Washington Humane Society. I say "a pair" because a campaign is defined as up to five ads, We had six, so we had to split it. We also won at District II and won a national Silver Addy (thankyouverymuchholdyourappluaseplease).

The creative has since been used as billboards, bus shelters and print. So should we enter it three more times this year? Or six? Certainly that's kosher within the rules, but we're not going to do it. Any additional awards we win for that same bit of work - that same bit of creativity, that same idea - would be nearly meaningless. But if it won again, we'd be able to stand up and cheer for ourselves. Hooray! Look at us! We won a bunch of Addys.

Maybe the answer is to let people simply buy Addy Awards. You know, pay the entry fee plus $50 and you get a "Participation Addy". The same way everybody who plays midget soccer gets a trophy these days. The statue wouldn't look a hell of a lot different at first glance, people to could line their shelves with awards and the Ad Club could make a lot of money.

Now, we all know I'm an idiot. But I think that the if there are fewer awards available, each one you win is worth a lot more. Win a bunch of awards for a bunch of work and you've won something.

Win a bunch of awards for the same work and you're fooling yourself.

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