What is utopia? It’s an idealistic place or state of being in which everything is flawless and wonderful.What is a typical agency’s utopia? I imagine to most people this involves enjoying fame and winning awards.
Let’s be honest. Who doesn’t like to win? I certainly do. Winning is brilliant. I experienced pure joy at the last Lynx Awards – an unforgettable night, in which we won Agency of the Year, and Network of the Year, only moments after I had been awarded the prestigious Advertising Man of the Year.
What Agency CEO doesn’t feel great to be surrounded by all these proud “winner” faces – my people- enjoying recognition for all the hard work, blood, sweat and tears? Awards are great and, with them, come more confidence, better talent knocking on our door and fame of course. Awards can help clients justify their choice of agency. What client doesn’t like being associated with a winner?
Still, winning awards is not my definition of utopia. The fact that we won awards at Cannes and at Lynx is a wonderful recognition, but it shouldn’t be the goal.
In my book, utopia is producing an ad that forces a factory to work 24 hours, and creates demand for the opening of a second and third factory. And yes, sure, a Grand Prix and Titanium Lion every time.
It was proven that creatively awarded campaigns are twice as effective than campaigns that do not win awards, but this does not apply to campaigns that are published or broadcasted simply to qualify for entry into award shows. It applies to campaigns that are created with specific KPIs in mind.
Our clients must come first. Awards are only valuable if they translate into higher desire for the client’s offering and into strengthening brand equity in a measurable way. That’s why Effies command higher ‘respect’ among clients.
David Ogilvy instilled his “we sell or else” mantra in Ogilvy’s corporate culture from the early days of founding his agency. He was so famous for this philosophy that, in an episode of Mad Men – the TV show where David Ogilvy and other Advertising greats are frequently referenced – I was amused to hear a character stating:
“You know clients hate awards. That’s why Ogilvy never submits. He does it for the clients.”
We want to continue submitting awards and winning, but Art Directors and Copywriters need to seek the glory through the brands they are entrusted with and the businesses they work on building everyday.
My utopia is realized when I continuously witness our agency’s creatives devote as much zeal, intensity and talent in creating award winning work for our loyal and well established clients, as they do when pitching for swanky new ones.