Finweek English Edition - - Advertising & Marketing -

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.

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