Time for a New Kind of Awards Show

Image: Monica Silvestre via Unsplash

So, the pandemic has come and, God willing, will be gone before long.

We survived.

The industry took an immediate hit in March 2020 but then got back off its knees. Leaped to its feet, in fact. Record profits at the big networks. Bumper bonuses.


And now the banner ads are filled with cries of entreaty from the many awards shows around the world. Enter now. Hurry, hurry.

Let’s say you have a great campaign. But, conscious of costs, you enter it where, if it wins, it will get you the most kudos not to mention PR.

You enter it to Cannes in six categories.

You’d like to enter it to The One Show, the Andys, The Clios, D&AD, London International, but you enter it only to NYF.


And to the Spikes.

And to your local awards show.

Even being a cheapskate you’ve racked up costs between US$ 10,000 and US$ 20,000.

Now multiply that by every piece of work you’re proud to have made in the last year and you can see how a single agency might well have an awards budget of over $1 million.

Awards are important. They are a magnet for talent. They advertise the agency’s skills to clients. They help the holding companies talk to their shareholders about creativity.

But at what cost?

In the lean times, were jobs lost to trophies?

Even in the times of plenty, is training cut back because the money is needed elsewhere?

There is another way

What makes The Caples Awards different isn’t that it’s free to enter. That’s the result of its differentiation. No, what makes The Caples unique is that it’s run by creative people for creative people.

Pretty much every other awards show is run by people who have never worked in the business.

We make the mistake of thinking their people are our people.

And they’re not.

Cannes Lions is an events company.

New York Festivals is a company that runs a collection of shows including the AME Awards, the Bowery Awards and the MIDAS Awards.

These shows are run to make money.

And good luck to them.

Cannes Lions was built into the giant it is by Roger Hatchuel, who is thought to have sold it to EMAP (now Ascential) for £52 million (US$ 69 million) in 2004. And that was a good deal.

Awards is big business.

The Caples, though, is not run by businessmen.

It’s run by two ex-creative directors.

I was the ECD of Ogilvy & Mather in London and Duncan Gray had his own agency, BHWG, which he sold to BBDO, becoming global creative director of Proximity.

I won Cannes Lions myself – as a copywriter and as a creative director.

I know how fulfilling and how exciting it is to walk up on stage and receive an award.

But I also think that there has to be a fairer way of recognising and rewarding great work.

Being free, The Caples levels the playing field.

Small companies can compete with the big guys.

A design studio in the provinces can square up against a famous shop in London, Berlin or San Francisco.

But we can’t survive on air. We need some money to make the thing work.

We think sponsorship could be the way forward

Andrew Robertson, President of BBDO, Mark Read, CEO of WPP and Annette King, CEO of Publicis Groupe UK, have given us help. Bless them.

I love the notion of our industry leaders setting aside their natural competitiveness to jointly fund the competition.

Branding in Asia and MediaBrief are our partners in APAC, giving us space and column inches. And bless them too.

In 2021 we got 2,100 entries from 42 countries.

The quality of the work was outstanding. Our winners went on to win at Cannes Lions six weeks later.

We’re hoping for more entries and even greater evidence that creativity is the single most powerful business tool to grow companies and brands.

If you have anything you’d like our jury of 40 top creatives to consider, you can learn more here. Our closing date for free entries is March 25th

This content is created in collaboration with The Caples Awards. You can learn more about the awards and how to enter here.

Picture of Patrick Collister

Patrick Collister

Patrick Collister is Custodian, The Caples Awards

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Key Dates 2022

  • Open for entries: 4th January
  • Deadline for FREE entries: 25th March
  • Final, terminal deadline for ALL entries: 8th April
  • Judging: 25th April to 5th May
  • Shortlists published: 6th May
  • Awards Presentation: 19th May

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