Are Advertising Awards Important?

Well, given that I run The Caples Awards I’m not really going to say awards are utterly pointless, am I?

But putting aside my vested interest and speaking as both a copywriter and a creative director, I’d still say awards are of very real psychological, reputational and financial significance to those who win them.




But I don’t mean that winning a gong makes creative people feel good about themselves, even though that is true.  What I mean is that creative people are incredibly competitive.

Where most people are quantitatively driven with a set number of tasks to complete each day, creatives are qualitatively driven. They have the same number of tasks as anyone else but what motivates them is how well they accomplish them.

It’s why they work late, work weekends, work on the bus and in the shower. They are competing with everyone whoever made an ad for that client before. And they are competing with themselves. They want to do something better than they’ve done before.

    Brilliant work doesn’t just appeal to advertising creatives sitting in darkened jury rooms, it resonates with real people.


When creatives win an award, it is an acknowledgment of this very different mind-set. It’s not just recognition for individuals who dreamed up and produced the idea, it’s recognition of the value of creativity itself.

It ain’t too far-fetched to suggest that when you win an award, you’re not just winning it for yourself, you’re winning it for all of us.


Well, winning awards gets your name in the media, which is always satisfying. As well as your own reputation, it also gives the agency’s profile a lift.

Now, most clients will tell you that they have no interest in creative awards at all. But when they start looking for an agency, how do they draw up a shortlist?

As Simon Thompson, former CMO of Honda put it: When you have a big problem, you want the best people to help you solve it. And the best people tend to congregate in the agencies where they can do their best work.

Incidentally, brilliant work doesn’t do the marketing director’s CV much harm either.
How do you think Fernando Machado* has become the most famous marketing director in the world?

If you can excuse the shameless plug here, in 2020 The Caples is bringing back The Courageous Client Award. It’s not a separate category you can enter.

It’s up to the jury. Once they’ve voted for all the winners, if they see any ideas that would have demanded real bravery from the client, then they can give proper recognition to that person. (Or persons. They can give as many or as few Courageous Client awards as they want.)

We’re doing this because several of the winning campaigns from 2019 only won because the marketers behind them put their heads on the block. So, even if they tell you they have no interest in creative awards, most clients can’t help be a little chuffed when they get pushed out into the spotlight, can they?


Well, of course, you hope that when you win prizes you get rises.
But what I mean here is that award-winning advertising is almost always more effective advertising.

In fact, there’s plenty of evidence to support this from James Hurman’s seminal book on the subject, “The Case for Creativity”, through to Orlando Wood’s recent treatise published by the UK’s IPA, “Lemon”.

Even those arch number-crunchers McKinsey’s say that award-winning work works better.

Back to Fernando Machado again.

Burger King is owned by 3G Capital, an investment company not known for fluffy values. Or for having any interest at all in advertising awards.

“So, how come you get away with it?”, a friend of mine asked Machado.

“I just show them the numbers,” he answered.

In other words, brilliant work doesn’t just appeal to advertising creatives sitting in darkened jury rooms, it resonates with real people.


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