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State of the Media - Tim Addington on Industry Awards


With the number of awards now taking place within our industry, where the same companies and campaigns seem to regularly appear as both nominees and winners - as highlighted in this 'Industry Awards Wrap' - it's time to raise some awareness on this issue.

Here we ask ex B&T editor, and now Founder of media communications consultancy TagPR - Tim Addington - to share his views.  As you'll read he offers an honest, balanced and highly insightful account. 

Thanks to Tim for taking the time to get involved.

See MediaScope's Industry Awards Wrap - where we offer a comprehensive overview of industry awards - including winners - held throughout the year.

Tim Addington - please outline your career path to date & your current role?

State of the Media - Tim Addington

I'm the former editor and associate publisher of B&T and prior to that was editor of Campaign Middle East magazine based in Dubai. After six year at B&T I became communications director at Sydney independent agency The Works. In addition to the The Works I also look after communications for media agency Slingshot Media, strategic marketing consultancy Step Change Marketing and am looking to work with other media, marketing and advertising businesses who want to communicate more effectively.

What is involved in entering industry awards?

Some awards are more involved than others.  Agency of the Year awards usually require more work than most with the business case, work, culture and financial results of the agency normally required. Thankfully the days of producing glossy (and expensive) books for entries are coming to an end as entries move online.

They are time consuming but important to get right if you want to tell the best story of the agency. What many agencies fail to do is construct a credible story around their entry that frames why they should win, with most just regurgitating facts and figures in the hope it will impress.

Who are the judges and what is the judging criteria?

 It depends on the awards. Creative awards will always use creative peers to judges, while effectiveness awards tend to gravitate towards marketers. Agency of the Year awards normally have a mix of industry consultants such as pitch doctors, marketers and people that may have worked in agency land but are now working in related fields.

Judging criteria will vary from awards to awards but in most instance judges are looking for a mix of business success and creative excellence.

Why do you think there are so many awards - is this justified and sustainable?

There are so many awards in advertising and marketing because of one simple reason.  Money.  Awards are great money spinners and as long as there are trophies to be won then there's a fairly high certainty that agencies and advertisers will enter.  Awards that are attached to a media publication in particular are increasingly important as a vital source of income to supplement declining print and still low digital revenues.

However award fatigue is beginning to creep in. The time and money required to enter awards are forcing agencies and advertisers to be more selective on the awards they enter. There is joke, which actually isn't far from the truth these days, that there's an awards show every week. While it may not be that bad just yet, it's not far off.

Award organisers need to be conscious of the fees they charge and the process involved to enter awards. I know the businesses I represent are now evaluating awards and picking those awards that are going to deliver the best return on their investment.

Why enter & what benefits do winners receive?

Awards are a great driver of new business, particularly Agency of the Year awards. Winning or even getting shortlisted does generate interest from potential new clients and at The Works we've seen an uplift in inquiries and conversion of new business as a result of winning or being named as a finalist.

Awards are also a great way of attracting new people to the agency, particularly creative talent, and winning also provides a morale boost to existing staff.

We often see the same names pop up in both nominees and winners - why is this?

Awards are a drug and once you've had a taste it's a hard one to give up. There is no doubt that some agencies in Australia see winning awards as a validation of their business and or strategy, while there are other agencies that have no interest in taking part in awards whatsoever. But as a new business driver, awards can't be overlooked and many agencies understand that.  Also for agencies that are part of global advertising or media networks, winning awards are often written into annual performance objectives.

Is it worthwhile for the smaller and independent segment of our industry to enter awards?

In my view it's very important for smaller and independent agencies to enter awards. We're seeing Agency of the Year awards increasingly cater to smaller and independent agencies with dedicated categories meaning they have realistic opportunities to get their names in lights. Often this can be the most attention a smaller agency will have received if they don't have an active PR plan in place. It gets an agency noticed and that in turn can be a driver of new business. It may feel like it's only the preserve of the larger more establish agencies, but I can assure you it's not the case. Everyone likes an underdog.

See MediaScope's Industry Awards Wrap - where we offer a comprehensive overview of industry awards - including winners - held throughout the year.