Bobby Pawar: Awards – 2. Awards Business – 4

13 Apr,2015

By Bobby Pawar

 

The gamification of awards has perverted the very reason why advertising awards were birthed.

 

The first award shows came about when some of the finest practitioners of the craft came together to cherry-pick the best work. It was put on stage so we could all celebrate it, learn from it, and hopefully, be inspired to beat it. That was a noble purpose.

 

Yes, it was still a contest. But it was a field where one idea jousted with another. The biggest ones won the day, and their creators bathed in the applause of their peers. Careers were made in those moments, not just of the people who held aloft the shining statuettes of their creativity, but also of those in the audience who were fired up to do work that was great enough to get them there, one day. Almost all of today’s creative legends, even those who now bemoan the awards, became what they are because their shelves glitter with gold.

 

It was all good, till it wasn’t. What happened? When did awards lose their innocence?

 

My theory is that the wheels came off when statistics slipped a roofie in our creative cocktail. Agencies stopped merely celebrating great ideas and started counting the awards that they won. The thing is when you start keeping score, what you are doing becomes a game. Everyone knows the objective of a game is to win. When that became a corporate imperative, and let’s not fool ourselves it has, the objective became to win at all cost.

 

Awards were supposed to put a spotlight on what’s best about our business, now they have become a for-profit business. Every award show has become a festival and the people who attend have gone from being fans of great work to delegates. Duck me with a fork and call me Daisy.

 

Now you may call me a regressivist, a naïve fool or simply a fool, but the question still remains are we better off now than we were all those years ago?

 

Bobby Pawar is Director and Chief Creative Officer – South Asia, Publicis Worldwide. The views here are his own. A slightly shorter version of this appeared in ‘dna of brands’ dated April 13, 2015

 

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