Major players in the ad industry are announcing that they won’t take part in award shows. Could this become a new trend?
Image: Martin Pross, Executive Creative Director, Scholz & Friends. The agency won Direct Agency of the Year at Cannes in 2006.
I remember back in 1996 the, then, independent Sao Paulo agency DM9 (today DM9DDB), hugely and internationally admired for their fantastic print work, caused quite a stir in the international ad scene: DM9’s director partner Nizan Guanaes, announced that the agency would not be participating in any national or international ad contests of that year.
In a letter to Ad Age he explained that, "in the last four years DM9 has been the most awarded Brazilian agency both in Brazil and abroad. Therefore we feel we deserve a sabbatical year in 1996."
I spoke to the wonderful Fabiana Antacli, Director of International Relations at DDB Brasil (DM9DDB) and Director of Communications at DDB Latina, who has been with DM9 for two decades and once came all the way from Sao Paulo to Archive’s former office in Frankfurt to present the agency’s latest output to us.
She confirmed that DM9 did not submit anything to any award show during the whole year: “We invested that money in our teams. Some creatives travelled around the world to visit some of the best agencies which we admired so much to learn something from them and the way they work.
“Some of our creatives, for instance, went to Germany to spend some days at Jung von Matt and Springer & Jacoby. At any rate, we dedicated our resources and efforts in order to expand horizons as well as look into the imminent globalisation. By the end of that year, we exhibited the work we did that year in a Sao Paulo museum.”
The reason I thought of this was because over the past month, two of the major players in creative advertising in Germany, agencies Jung von Matt and Scholz & Friends, announced that they would take similar steps. Jung von Matt, who in The Gunn Report 2011 ranked number five internationally, decided that from now on they would only enter their work to award shows every other year.
According to agency founder Jean-Remy von Matt they want to use the money saved to create a foundation devoted to train young creative talent. Only several days later, and allegedly unrelated to Jung von Matt’s new awards policy, another German advertising heavyweight, Scholz & Friends, followed suit by stating they would no longer be participating at any award shows at all.
“We are witnessing an extreme inflation of award schemes and categories, which have perverted the whole system of competition,” Martin Pross, ECD at Scholz & Friends, told the German trade journal W&V.
He went on to say that this development has led to clients losing respect for the creative award shows as well a loss of relevance of these awards amongst creatives themselves, especially juniors. They have not said whether they will be taking part in the awards festival circuit ever again.
The response of the German ad scene to these startling announcements was, understandably, sharply divided and it will remain to be seen if this approach to the awards circus will turn out to be a trend. Of course the awards organisers, be it Cannes Lions, Epica, Eurobest or the ADCs around the world - in fact whoever charges agencies fees to have their work judged - might be more than a little concerned about this development.
As an example, Scholz & Friends and Jung von Matt have been major entrants (and award winners) for many years at Epica, Europe’s biggest awards scheme – the jury of which I have been part of for 20 years. In 2011 Scholz & Friends alone had 55 entries, for this year Jung von Matt have submitted 60 entries.
Interestingly, and quite unrelated to all this, as of 2012, the Epica Awards have decided to open the competition to work from all over the world and no longer restrict themselves to European agencies (a restriction that had watered-down to the point of arbitrariness in the past ten years anyway with countries such as Israel, South Africa and Oman being eagerly submitted and accepted into the competition.)
However this new development turns out, we’re of course happy to say that none of the agencies who have so far decided against participation in the awards show circuit have even the slightest intention of stopping to submit their latest work to Archive magazine - something which, since our very beginnings, has always come without a price tag.
Video: Siemens "The Laundry Gallery" by Scholz & Friends, Berlin, won Gold (Exhibitions & Live Events) at Cannes 2012.
Image: Mercedes-Benz "Invisible Drive" by Jung von Matt, Hamburg won the Outdoor Grand Prix at Cannes 2012.