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The pressure to win awards has never been greater: Ajay Chandwani: Goafest 2013

06-April-2013
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The pressure to win awards has never been greater: Ajay Chandwani: Goafest 2013

Winning awards has always been the passion with creative folks. Industry and peer group recognition is the oxygen every creative and agency head aspires for. For the young creatives who are on a career path, awards mean more than just motivation. They could decide on which way their career takes a spin – either to dizzy heights or the depths of mediocrity.

In recent times, the pressure to win has never been greater with more and more agencies feeling the heat of dull mediocre work that most large clients are hell bent on releasing to meet their sales objectives. Thanks to mediocrity, a parallel award culture of proactive work gets created in most agencies to keep creative people sane and motivated.

The proactive ad culture is often confused with scam ads for fictitious clients, which are downright vulgar in their desperation to win awards. What does the proactive ad culture thrive on? It encourages creative folks to push the envelope or re-write category rules of craft for brands they handle. At the appropriate time, creative directors persuade their clients to let them release these special ads purely for motivational reasons. So, a major brand will have two kinds of ads – one campaign that runs in major media, and a special ad or two that is released for motivational reasons.

Cannes and the other respected festivals like One Show and D&AD have always defined the gold standards for creativity and it is not surprising that many winners there are actually those produced by the proactive ad culture. When clients or critics of the proactive ad culture see this, they wonder why their regular mainstream advertising can’t look and feel equally good.

Goafest is no different in this aspect as some winners in the past have come from the proactive ad school unfortunately sometimes confused and clubbed as scam. Of course, many of the notable winners at Goafest and Cannes also happen to be campaigns released in major media. So, how does the jury differentiate between ads when judging? Most scam or proactive ads don’t even make the shortlist since the jury can smell them. A few really good ones that are impossible to ignore, rise dramatically to win.

Donald Gunn turned up the pressure even more on agency heads and networks with the Gunn Report. Networks started feeling the heat from clients who like their agencies to win. Cannes also became the harbinger of change for some stodgy clients who had never featured among winners earlier.

So, what is the Hobson’s choice to creative folks? Create proactive ads to push the art and craft or face the anonymity of mediocre advertising that will not win awards. Of course, there is a third more difficult choice in which you ensure every ad you create is good enough to rock the market and win the awards.This third choice is only possible when you have really outstanding talent and a creative culture to pull it off.

So what happens to those global standards in creativity that some well-endowed creative agencies of the world have set? Agencies like Crispen Porter, TBWA Paris, Leo Burnett Chicago, BBH, Mother, and DDB, to mention just a few of the trendsetters who have set benchmarks of creativity which are hard to beat. Many agencies trying to catch up on this map are faced with the Hobson’s choice and when time runs out, that is when the pressure to win consumes you!

Perhaps it’s time to examine the third choice and build a culture that creates outstanding work that rocks the market and the awards!

Ajay Chandwani is Director, Percept.

Goafest 2013 coverage on exchange4media is presented by Patrika group.

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