If you can measure it, you can fake it.


pencilThere’s an ad agency in my neck of the woods that used to tell everyone they were the most creative agency. Because they won more awards in Scotland than anyone else.

I didn’t believe them.

They did good work, but so did three or four other agencies. And they judged their worthiness solely on the Scottish awards, not the national or international ones.

Recently I was at the Scottish Awards. Again. Our agency got ten nomination, but just one award (plus five commendations). A bit disappointing.

But not as disappointing as the “most creative agency”. They won a lot less.

Had they suddenly become Scotland’s least creative agency?

In the same way I didn’t believe the previous hype, I didn’t believe this either.

Everyone knows awards shows are haphazard and contradictory.

Everyone knows agencies sometimes enter “tidied up” work just for the show. Or even work that never ran.

Everyone knows that juries get leaned on by organisers to be over generous and give everyone a prize (it’s happened to me), or sometimes the juries go the other way and award very little because they want to look superior.

Awards exist partly to rub the ego of agencies and juries and line the pockets of the organisers.

No agency becomes the most creative by winning more awards. Or the least creative by winning fewer.

As someone once said, you’re only as good as your last ad. Or as I prefer to think, your next one.  It’s what you’re doing now that matters. It’s the quality of your thinking as you support a client in a project (stuff that never gets seen by the public, let alone a jury). It’s the demand you create, the sales you boost, the opinions you shift and the eyebrows you raise.

It’s column inches and sales curves and twitter posts and staff confidence and goodwill and watercooler chatter.

Personally I like awards and I hate them. I’ll never judge my agency’s worth by them, but I will show work off in them. If nothing else it’s a good show ‘n’ tell at the end of a hard year.

Getting a client to appoint you, then buy into a great idea, then see it through to execution without diluting it or mucking about with it. That’s where the real talent lies.

And at present there’s no award for that. Unless anyone can tell me different.



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