I have always been captivated by the potency of a great idea and the process behind crafting award-winning work in the realms of advertising, film, and art. Having had the privilege of serving as President of D&AD, and in my role as a voting member of BAFTA, I always try to stay up to date with trends, attending exhibitions, reading articles, and following awards shows.
This year, during my routine social media exploration, I stumbled upon an intriguing post from the Caples Awards. Instead of the expected update on the judging process, it
offered something unique—a live scoreboard tracking the most generous judges. While the scores themselves are all relative, the engagement on social media about the Awards generates valuable excitement and buzz for the event.
For several reasons, I feel a deep connection to the Caples Awards. I hold immense admiration for my long-time friend, Patrick Collister. He enjoys widespread respect and is genuinely liked by countless creatives. They rally around him, recognizing that his success reflects positively on themselves, and the entire industry. Patrick has dedicated many years to the Caples, ensuring its continuity and relevance.
So I was delighted to receive an invitation from Patrick and his team to attend the 2023 Caples Awards evening at The Pregnant Man, the Saatchi and Saatchi pub in Chancery Lane. Speaking of agencies, it’s worth mentioning that Patrick secured sponsorship for the Awards from Andrew Robertson at BBDO and Mark Read at WPP. Their involvement signifies not only financial support but also a clear message about the Awards’ significance.
“Throughout the years, the Caples Awards continuously adapted to reflect the evolving advertising landscape. “
The event took place in an informal setting. With a small stage and familiar faces in the audience, including Adrian Holmes, Graham Fink, Paul Burke, Sue Higgs, Leon Jaume, Neil Dawson, Liz Harold, to name but a few, plus the esteemed judges, the atmosphere was charged with anticipation. Leveraging technology, the Awards live-streamed the winners as they are announced. This bold move ran smoothly this year, allowing us to connect with delighted winning teams from as far afield as Australia, Chile, Dubai, New Zealand, and Singapore.
To understand the Caples Awards’ current status and trajectory, let’s delve briefly into its origins. The awards were named after the renowned BBDO copywriter John R. Caples, an iconic figure from the Mad Men era. In 1978, Andi Emerson, a BBDO copywriter herself, founded the Awards show in New York, naming the event after her boss. Initially centred around direct advertising, the Awards sought to recognize campaigns that effectively captured attention, engaged audiences, and delivered measurable results. Back then, direct mail, telemarketing, and print advertisements dominated the advertising landscape.
Throughout the years, the Caples Awards continuously adapted to reflect the evolving advertising landscape. With the emergence of the digital age, the Awards started acknowledging campaigns that embraced new technologies and data-driven marketing while honouring their origins.
Patrick kicked off proceedings this year by announcing that the Caples Awards is the first global advertising awards show to offer free entry. It’s run by creative people, for creative people, embodying a spirit of inclusivity and accessibility. The show continued with the head of judges, the multi-talented Laura Jordan-Bambach (president and chief creative officer at Grey London), taking the stage to present the Awards.
The 2023 edition of the Caples Awards showcased several noteworthy trends. One particularly striking one was the integration of public relations (PR) with unconventional media, which played a pivotal role in many award-winning campaigns. These campaigns stood out by delivering compelling stories that leveraged PR and newsworthiness to amplify their impact. They utilized unconventional approaches and made bold media choices to create truly memorable brand experiences.
“It acknowledges the evolving societal values and the increasing expectations placed on brands to make a positive impact on the world. But the judges balanced this with recognition of outstanding creativity from mainstream brands with commercial objectives.”
This year’s Awards also reflected the growing significance of purpose-driven marketing and social responsibility, which has been a factor in awards shows for many years. Some saying so much so it has lost its connection to the real world of advertising and selling products. The Caples echoed this with awards for campaigns that champion diversity, inclusivity, sustainability, and giving people a voice.
It acknowledges the evolving societal values and the increasing expectations placed on brands to make a positive impact on the world. But the judges balanced this with recognition of outstanding creativity from mainstream brands with commercial objectives, including Diageo, Kellogg’s (Pringles), Mars, McDonald’s, Samsung, and Unilever. In fact, the Best in Show Award went to Mars (BBDO NY) for its M&Ms ‘Spokescandies on Pause’ campaign.
Today, the Caples Awards stands as a celebration of creative excellence across the entire marketing landscape. By embracing technological advancements, broadening its scope, and recognizing the power of purpose-driven marketing, the Caples Awards continue to inspire marketers to push the boundaries of their craft.
Credit is due to Patrick Collister and his team for their remarkable efforts in updating the Caples Awards, to ensure its relevance for years to come. This metamorphosis has now positioned the Awards as a potential early predictor of what awaits at Cannes.
Akin to the role of the Golden Globes or British BAFTAs in relation to the Oscars. The calibre of work entered and the discerning judges involved suggest that the Caples Awards is becoming an indicator of the highest global standards of creative excellence.