You’ll be see­ing less work from DDB at award shows in 2016. Here’s why, writes Amir Kas­saei, the Iran-born chief cre­ative of­fi­cer of DDB World­wide

Campaign Middle East - - FRONT PAGE - Amir Kas­saei is chief cre­ative of­fi­cer of DDB World­wide

There is some­thing fun­da­men­tally wrong in ad land. Ev­ery­body knows it but no­body has been will­ing to fix it or re­ally even talk about it. Un­til now. As of to­day, we’re more than just talk­ing openly about it, we’re go­ing to walk the talk. And hope­fully re­cal­i­brate some of the most im­por­tant val­ues in our in­dus­try to show the way for­ward in terms of how this in­dus­try should think, act and cre­ate.

Our DDB agen­cies are among the mostawarded agen­cies in the his­tory of ad­ver­tis­ing. We’ve won more grands prix at the Cannes Lions In­ter­na­tional Fes­ti­val of Cre­ativ­ity than any other net­work on the planet. Al­most ev­ery DDB of­fice around the world is among the most-awarded agency brands in its mar­ket. And that is a huge prob­lem. Be­cause that is not what mat­ters.

Too many of us in the in­dus­try have bought into the idea that win­ning awards is proof of cre­ative ef­fec­tive­ness, so much so that we’re will­ing to sac­ri­fice our in­tegrity to get them. And in turn that has less­ened the in­tegrity of the awards them­selves. So if we be­lieve that we are a great cre­ative or an amaz­ing agency or a great net­work be­cause we won such and such mean­ing­less award in a sub-sub-sub-cat­e­gory at an ad­ver­tis­ing awards show where ad peo­ple award ad peo­ple’s ir­rel­e­vant so­lu­tions for prob­lems that of­ten do not even ex­ist, then we’d bet­ter think again. If we be­lieve that the proof of our real tal­ent is that we came up with a funky case video for an idea that did not have any­thing to do with the real world and was not even cre­ated for a rea­son other than to please a jury at an award show, then we are not tal­ented. If we are com­ing up with so­cial ideas that pre­tend

t o solve the world’s big­gest prob­lems or help dis­en­fran­chised peo­ple, but, in fact, are only be­ing done to win an award, we are cyn­i­cal and per­haps even crim­i­nal.

Our in­dus­try has lost fo­cus about what re­ally mat­ters. All of us who are work­ing in ad­ver­tis­ing and mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion have only one pur­pose: to use our cre­ative tal­ents and in­sights to build rel­e­vance and in­flu­ence in to­day’s world that con­se­quently creates sub­stan­tial re­sults for the brands, prod­ucts and ser­vices of our clients.

If we do that in great, un­seen, fresh and in­no­va­tive ways, we will move peo­ple. We will im­pact so­ci­eties and shape cul­ture. That is the real and only rel­e­vant recog­ni­tion that we as an in­dus­try should aim for. And that is the only cur­rency that is valid out there. Re­mem­ber the ‘Think Small’ ad for Volk­swa­gen, which was voted the best ad­ver­tis­ing ever cre­ated, and was the foun­da­tion of the cre­ative rev­o­lu­tion and changed ev­ery­thing? It didn’t win ma­jor in­ter­na­tional awards but it helped Volk­swa­gen be­come a global and suc­cess­ful brand. And it changed cul­ture, art, mu­sic and so­ci­ety.

We have to stop the mad­ness. Not only by talk­ing about it but by also do­ing some­thing against it. So we at DDB will not play this mad game. We will be com­ing up with a plan to di­vest our­selves from the mad­ness. We at DDB want to be recog­nised for the real work that we do for our real clients and their real prob­lems and if, on top of that, we get some ap­plause from the in­dus­try for it than we’ll be happy.

You will see less work from DDB at some of the shows. And maybe they won’t win much against the phoney pro­to­types. So what? We want to be the best and most in­flu­en­tial com­pany in our in­dus­try, not the most awarded. We may be say­ing good­bye to the made-up empty ti­tles like Agency of the Year, Net­work of the Year or what­ever. But when we do re­ceive th­ese recog­ni­tions, you can be sure it is only be­cause we were the best with the best work and not be­cause we were the net­work with the most pro­to­types or who spent the most money.

Be­cause we be­lieve that win­ning awards only means that you are good at win­ning awards. Be­cause we care more about sell­ing our clients than our­selves. Be­cause we care more about emp­ty­ing our clients’ shelves than fill­ing our own with tro­phies. Be­cause we care more about real tal­ent that con­nects with real peo­ple than peo­ple with port­fo­lios full of false cre­ativ­ity and awards that do not re­ally mean any­thing.

There will be a lot of peo­ple out there who will hate us, who will point fin­gers at us and ac­cuse us of be­ing harm­ful to award shows and our in­dus­try in gen­eral. But we are lucky. At DDB we have al­ways had a foun­da­tion built by Bill Bern­bach at our core to guide us to be brave. As Bill once said: “If you stand for some­thing, you will al­ways find some peo­ple for you and some peo­ple against you. If you stand for noth­ing, you will find no­body against you and no­body for you.”

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