Sanjeev Kotnala: Do Call-for-entry campaign reflect true award picture?

30 May,2018

By Sanjeev Kotnala


The rising cost of entry, the controversies surrounding awards and the perceived value is forcing many agencies to evaluate their options of awards to enter and even cap the number of entries. Business situations are polarising opinions. In future, it is possible that few of the respected award shows may make way for the new ones to dominate.

Today differentiation among awards and the respect is a lot more relevant. Awards like the Marquees, Emvies, Effies, Olive Crown and Cannes have no issue as they stand firmly differentiated and to some extend unique in their calling.

Every award event has interest in the number of entries. Not only do they reflect in a favourable revenue statement, they also are an indication of the respect they command and the hunger entrants have to win it. Entering an award shows acceptance of format, stature, judging and scale, while absenteeism may not signal a rejection of the concept.

Awards also follow a product lifecycle. Hence, they need to work continuously to remain relevant and keep the aura alive. It needs acceptance and approval from numerous interested parties. At every possible opportunity, it needs to rejuvenate itself by taking critical popular or unpopular decisions.

The call-for-entry campaigns thus play an important role. It is a presentation of the award’s self-reflection as ambition.

The award has really arrived when it no longer needs to shout. When the expanding lists of potential winners chase it. When the participants wait for the announcement to block their diaries in anticipation. And when making to finalist list is a news and thing to boast about.

Otherwise, awards needs to regularly deep-dive to find the pain points of the numerous stakeholders and promise to resolve them. They need to recognise changing trends and tweak the process and evaluation.

The perceptions adulterated with reality of experience take time to change. Net, awards remain in the perpetual loop of course correction and the call-for-entry campaigns speak a different language every year.

Awards get the campaigns they deserve?

Most call-for-entry campaigns are full of hyperbole, exaggerated appeal and unfulfilled promises. They lack accurate self-reflection and fail to answer the question of their relevance or differentiation. They attempt to create high expectations that later only end in disappointment.

Building an award is not an easy task. It has to navigate a treacherous journey from concept creation, planning, stakeholder approval, immaculate execution and consistency in delivery.

Awards need a concept to exist.

Unfortunately, many remain un-differentiated and lack relevance with the target group. The first few years of test run seeks stakeholders’ validation creating an interest to participate.  If everything goes well, the award is able to create a loyal group willing to defend it against every possible claim and negative perception. The award then gets elevated within the fraternity, and few of them do reach the pinnacle.

The stage of nirvana and moksha in awards is when it is so relevant and impactful that all the award has to do is to announce the dates. And even then, the need to continuously monitor emerging trend and morph as per industry expectations remains.

Awards rarely reach the moksha stage.

Every year, the awards must visit the drawing board and validate their relevance. They must redesign and redefine their core. Cosmetic addition-deletion of categories, process tweaks and a policy direction is never the solution.

Sometimes, being democratic is the problem. Awards need a strong, charismatic leader with full authority to lead the change. Awards controlled by associations and industry is ill-placed to make significant shifts. No one wants to risk the displeasure of any significant stakeholder.

Here are some examples of call-for-entry campaigns from well-known awards. Judge yourself, if they do justice to the awards or reflect the reality. Is that the best the awards can manage? Evalaute as a representative of the target segment.

Here is the 2014 campaign of Kyoorius. I loved the meet merit idea. This one is titled DANCE while defining the new award in town. You can watch the other two PENCIL, and CAT on YouTube. There was a edginess to the concept that did justice to the concept and held your attention.

The Olive Crown campaign presents the concept powerfully and creatively lifts the image of the award. It also won an Olive Crown award!

The Kyoorius call-for-entry campaign 2018 takes on all the talk surrounding the other major award in town. It seems to be listening to the stakeholders and understand the underlying issues. The answer is presented in a loud, confident voice. It will now have to live to the expectations.

Now it’s different that we have a similar sounding campaign from ‘Eagle Award’ in 2012. Personally I loved it.

The simple straight to the point Goafest 2016 campaign.

INSERT 2016 GOAFEST Campaign

Goafest call-for-entry campaign in 2011 banked on an Industry saying ‘Ideas are everywhere’. It is questionable whether it was the right campaign and what was its impact.  May be awards will be better off with post-research of their campaigns in addition to town hall with the stakeholders.

Here is the simplest of them, the YOUNG DIRECTOR award. It announces the awards and asks you to go and find out if you were interested. It is a risky, bold proposition. However, I think, it talks to the TG in a right tone. Maybe it did get the young directors to seek more information.

Not to forget the ‘legend’ advertisement for Pepper Awards. At least the proposition is upfront.

The campaigns are a self-reflection. They reflect how the organisng committee sees or want to project them. It indicates the committee’s prominent self-doubts and reason for confidence. The call-for-entry campaigns cannot address most of the issues. The forces behind the awards, keep trying to force a superlative misdirected imagery in an attempt to address basic issues. It usually ends up with disappointment.

An award that is relevant, impactful and established needs no major campaign to pull the entries.  The tricky part of relevance and impact starts raising their nasty head after awareness builds up.

We must understand that though the awards are always work-in-progress. They are in a beta mode, continuously evaluating relevance, respect and impact in an attempt to remain faithful to the industry needs. The stakeholders and the participants want to see the final version and hence every time the call-for-entry campaign has to work that more harder.  Maybe time, that enough attention was paid to call-for-entry campaigns to reflect the true picture.


Sanjeev Kotnala is a senior strategy consultant and an educator. The views here are personal


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