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When you think of awards, the Oscars, Emmys, and Golden Globes probably come to mind, but you probably might not think about advertising agency awards. But for a business like ours, we have been asked to submit and participate, to be in the running for these industry awards, time and time again. Let’s examine what these awards are and if they really mean anything to clients.

We’ll start off with the fact that “awards” in our industry, as with most, are big business. Awards are given out by media marketing platforms like The Drum and Digiday, as well as through industry associations like, The Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals with their ‘MarComm Awards’ and the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences with their ‘Webby Awards’ just to name a few.

There are awards for:

  • Digital Media
  • Print Media
  • Creative Design
  • Strategic Communications
  • Content Marketing
  • Audio / Video
  • Industry Leaders
  • Technology
  • Strategy
  • Distribution
  • Editorial
  • And more!

For a media planning and buying agency, like ours there are awards for:

  • Best Media Plan
  • Best Use of Emergent Media
  • Most Diverse Spending
  • Best Brand Integration into Gaming/Sports
  • Best Brand Integration into Traditional Media
  • And more!

With more than eight thousand businesses in the advertising industry (Statista 2019), it’s easy to see why this became big business and how there would be so many opportunities to “win”. But how do any of these companies get nominated. Who gets to choose where the entries come from? In many cases, it’s the businesses themselves vying for a chance to get recognized by the companies promoting the awards. And many of these opportunities come at a very high cost.

According to an interview with an ‘agency CEO’ done by Forbes, the CEO had to “defend his decision to spend $250,000 on entry fees”, because “winning awards is how he benchmarks his agency.” That doesn’t seem right. In that same article, the writer noted that the actual “usefulness as any type of industry benchmarking regarding who is doing outstanding work is predicated on the quality and robustness of the judging process.” So, the question is, who are they to judge? Could the winners based on the amount of investment spent to win awards and agencies willing to spend it? That may be why the larger, popular, and wealthier agencies are the ones “highlighting” all their winning awards.

It isn’t that winning an award for something should be overlooked. Our agency won an award for our Out of Home Strategy for “Best Alcohol Advertising and Promotions”. Yes, believe it or not, there are awards that get that specific.

And of course, as a media agency, we were very proud to win, but we didn’t nominate ourselves and we don’t hang our hat on those kinds of things. It means more to us when our own clients tell us they appreciate what we do for them. Getting them the best media placements and unique opportunities, while saving them money. No award necessary.