Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

Why awards matter

Published in Sep-Oct 2010
Awards can inspire greatness; in celebrating the craft of advertising and design they can raise the bar of our work.

Of what use are awards in an advertising/marketing climate such as ours, where neither the consumer (read client) nor the creator is really interested in pushing the boundaries of innovation? Where creativity is looked upon as an unnecessary luxury; where design and creative excellence have been relegated to the bottom of the heap and quality has become a negotiable commodity.


Unless creativity can be shown to be truly effective, it will never be accepted as a worthy endeavour but rather as “ameero(n) kay chonchalay” (idiosyncrasy of the rich).


In an environment where creativity is ‘supposed’ to be the agency’s territory and the ‘C’ word becomes a subject of ridicule, not to be mixed-up with hard core marketing, creativity loses out on its potential to be effective in today’s rapidly changing consumer landscape. In such cases, awards end up being mere white elephants over which a bunch of creatives get together to mutually congratulate themselves and laugh at the ‘real-world’, which in turn laughs at them for being delusional.

Then there is the other definition, whereby advertising and design are only truly creative when they are effective as well. And perhaps that is our real challenge.

Unless creativity can be shown to be truly effective, it will never be accepted as a worthy endeavour but rather as “ameero(n) kay chonchalay” (idiosyncrasy of the rich).

This is a battle that needs a buy in from everyone involved in the business of ‘selling’. After all, the client, who is paying for the advertising, has a right to get his money’s worth.

But how does one determine the effectiveness of a creative endeavour? Everything does not translate into a cash transaction. Yet unfortunately that is the myopic view when it comes to building brands.

Research has become the trendy and fashionable thing to do, but numbers and statistics are the easiest to fudge, and unfortunately our high and mighty research institutions do not have a stellar record – and I will be bold enough to pass a sweeping judgement across them all. (At a ‘prestigious’ panel discussion with representatives of the leading research houses, a query for focused creative-oriented research was summarily dismissed as the individual responsibility of agencies.) So who gets to do the analysis?

Internationally there are creative awards galore. ANDY’s, ABBY’s, Cannes, CLIO’s, D&AD, Lynx, Spikes Asia, and of course the Effies – the awards for effective advertising. The Effies have a stringent set of criteria that need to be met before anything is deemed worthy of consideration. Our clients, creative and media agencies and our research brethren would do well to peruse the kind of data required for evaluation by the Effies. I once attempted to do so, but came to the unpleasant realisation that most of that data does not exist (because post-evaluations are hardly ever that thorough) and even if it does, no client in Pakistan will ever share such information.

So are we doomed to failure? Yes, if we continue to pay mere lip service to creativity. And since both sides of the marketing equation are equal stakeholders here, we need to look at awards for what they can help us achieve.

Awards can inspire greatness; in celebrating the craft of advertising and design they can raise the bar of the quality of our work. In recognising innovative work they can stimulate the creative urge even in the most diehard of hard core seths, and perhaps equally importantly, they can make us feel good about ourselves! And we really need that these days.

Adnan Syed is Chief Creative Officer, Adcom. adnans@adcompk.com