A UNIQUE FEATURE of the ad industry is its obsession with awards. In most jobs if you do a good job, you expect to be rewarded with money, status, or both. But in the ad biz you get rewarded for winning creative awards. You win awards – you get promoted; you win awards – you get offered a better job, or start your own agency, or are lured overseas.
Many people bemoan that wrongfocused style of doing business. After all, the job of advertising is to promote and sell the product, not the ad. But the people who make good ads are a peculiar breed, ego-driven and insecure. That’s the best way to motivate them. It’s also a way of measuring that almost immeasurable factor: creative ability.
The awards obsession leads to many abuses, including scam ads – created for the sole purpose of winning awards. Attempting to counter that, the Creative Circle has abandoned its points system of valuing awards, which provides a single scale to measure all recognised South African and international awards, and to evaluate agencies and creative teams.
By trashing the system, the Creative Circle hopes to stifle the unhealthy obsession. But will it work? I don’t think so. What motivates ad men won’t change. All that will change is the way of measuring their achievement, which will become less precise, less accurate, more woolly. If it does work, it will be by de-motivating people.
The Creative Circle must come up with a better alternative that heavily penalises scam ads but still fosters creativity.