Friday, January 20, 2012

Judge thy creative, not thy profitability

I do wonder sometimes about the cost of entering ad awards, and whether the current processes are actually fair; or if they (either deliberately or unconsciously) restrict award entries to the big agencies.

I was speaking to a freelance planner about this the other day, how freelancers, small agencies and clientside planners are left out of the IPA awards. Sure a cost of £1-2k is fine when you are part of a global network, but how many small agencies can afford those kinds of entry fees? If your agency employs 5-10 people then that is a huge chunk of money to throw into an award entry.

Given the IPA's role is to promote the industry, agencies and their work, the IPA should be encouraging smaller agencies to join and take part, if their awards (and they aren't the only ones) process is excluding a large part of the industry, surely that needs looking at?

Any awards process that is truly about rewarding creativity should be making allowances and understandings for those that don't have the budgets of the massive agencies; otherwise we don't do ourselves justice. It might also help correct those people who still have this perception that agencies outside London are insignificant and talentless. Just because they aren't in your awards books, doesn't mean they are rubbish - but maybe we should look at how they can have a fair chance to get in there.

It will also help to widen the pool of talent that is known to everyone. This cost-drag stops people in smaller agencies getting their names known and being rewarded, even if they do amazing work. It's not unheard of for agencies to only want to employ people who have won awards - so everyone should have a chance to do so on merit not whether their agency has budget this year.

So what do we do? Should we have an effective tax balance where by the bigger agencies pay more and smaller agencies pay less? I don't see why not. But at the very very least there needs to be some kind of support criteria that allows those that struggle to afford award entries to be able to. We are a creative industry, anything that makes money and finance a factor in judging that creativity seems wrong to me.

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