Money. Ego. Hedonism. A petri dish for the awards show virus to flourish.

June 27, 2012

Like a Gold Lion only golder!

My last post on corruption at the International Advertising Festival in Cannes drew quite a few readers, almost breaking the record on my humble little blog. Thank you…I guess. Nothing like timely controversy to goose a blog.

Anyway, I got to thinking about advertising awards shows and what makes them so popular despite the obvious chicanery. Scam ads are as common as pigeons. Most festivals happily accept them. Now we here tell of rigged juries and the calculated “killing” of good work so as to give crappier offerings a better shot. Corruption at all levels from agencies and festivals alike.

So, what is up with the popularity and propensity of advertising awards shows? The big ones continue to thrive despite shenanigans, to say nothing of economic recession and advertising downturns.

There are exactly three reasons why:

  1. On the receiving end it’s all about the money. Each submission has a startlingly high fee attached. Need I say more?
  2. Agency creative are egomaniacs with inferiority complexes. We think we are awesome and yet crave validation at every turn. I have this defect as much as you do.
  3. Awards shows are boondoggles. The judging and/or ceremonies usually take place in exotic locations, like New York or Cannes. We like going to them.

Money. Ego. Hedonism. In other words a petri dish for the awards show virus to flourish. Indeed, more and more strains are added to Cannes bloated category lists every year.

In a classic episode from season three of the Simpsons, “Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes?” a routine physical exam at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant reveals that safety inspector Homer Simpson has become sterile after being exposed to radiation. Fearing a lawsuit, plant owner Mr. Burns awards Homer with the “First Annual Montgomery Burns Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence” in exchange for a legal waiver freeing the nuclear plant of all liability.

Hmmmm, Excellence!


2 Responses to “Money. Ego. Hedonism. A petri dish for the awards show virus to flourish.”

  1. All advertising creatives secretly think of themselves as filmmakers, but a special, maverick breed of filmmakers that operates in the ballsy, grown-up world of commerce. They even give themselves awards in Cannes, of all places — but significantly, not when the movie stars are there.

    Like the title “creative director,” awards reaffirm relationships, justify salary demands, and help maintain morale in a field where good work is often unnoticed, unappreciated or even vilified.

    Awards are battle scars creatives can show one another for the purpose of commiseration and nostalgia, but they should not be discussed outside the advertising fraternity. They will ring hollow to the general public, who won’t know what they mean, what they don’t mean, and at what bitter cost they were won.

  2. “It’s not all plaques and ham”– I believe that’s a classic Simpsons quote. Applies to ad awards, too.

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