How to Win an Advertising Award «

How to Win an Advertising Award

I recently posted a poll about advertising awards, to test the waters so to speak. The results are hardly conclusive yet, with only 58 votes cast at the time this blog post was published. But it does seem to have a front-runner right now, with 25% of the vote going to 1 of the 8 options:

How Important Are Advertising Awards? They only reward derivative work.
Personally, that’s where I would have cast my vote, too. I have found the award winners of the last 10-15 years to be oh so samey. I’m not saying the ideas aren’t clever, or eye-catching in some way. But they seem to have evolved (or devolved) into something that’s not quite advertising any more.

No, it’s more self-congratulatory. A kind of “yep, pretty clever huh?” style of advertising that the likes of Ogilvy and Bernbach would be very disappointed with. I’m not going to go into huge detail here about how the awards shows have to change, because it’s a futile endeavor. They won’t change until the advertising landscape changes drastically (and I do see tiny cracks in the veneer). But until then, if you’re in the mood to win some nice shiny awards, here’s a checklist:

1.Read the award show annuals from the last 15 years and be “inspired” by them. Don’t copy anything, but mimic the thinking and add your own twist.
2.Get visual. Very, very visual. Older award-winners were based on the clash of words, new ones are about the clash of images.
3.Headlines are optional. These used to be called “headless wonders” but that’s all in the past.
4.The tagline can do most of the lifting. So if your visual is cryptic, the tag is there to prop it up.
5.Body copy is not needed. Ads used to inform. But now, award-winning ads make broad brand statements.
6.Do something whacky. Turn the ad upside-down. Print it backwards. Use fold-outs or cut-outs.
7.Great photography or illustration is still revered. So, spend some money on decent talent if you can.
8.Humor, irony, sacrasm and shock-value are big draws to the award-show judges.
9.Big, campaignable ideas have more of a chance. Does it stretch to guerilla? Is the website just as strong as print?
10.Go beyond traditional media. Make use of social networking. Do something very unexpected.
That’s obviously not a complete list, but it’s a good start. If this were the seventies or eighties, that list would look a lot different. A great headline and persuasive, well-written body copy would be a must. Product attributes and benefits would need to be demonstrated. But times have changed, and award-winning work has different standards now. If you want a gong, you’ll have to play by the new rules, or work really hard to change those rules.


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