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Working to Win Awards is a Losing Strategy

Over the last few years I’ve noticed a steady increase in my industry friends talking about ‘award winning work’. Whether it’s an increased emphasis on winning awards, specialty projects contrived to catch the eye of judges or new management brought in specifically to boost creative output to award winning heights, the problems inherent to this kind of thinking are many and unnecessary.

When you work to win awards you do a disservice to your clients. The work starts to skew toward meeting the needs of the agency over the needs of your client partners. Budgets can quickly dry up, scopes can become unwieldy and client patience begins to wain.

It’s an unattainable yardstick. When “that isn’t an award winning idea” becomes the beginning and end of a critique you neuter your creatives. Creativity, and by extension creative work, is an abstract endeavor at best and that’s why we have creative briefs. Without the creative brief there isn’t a way for the un-indoctrinated to judge the validity of an idea. When a presentation misses the mark briefs provides a reference point to go back to. “It’s not award winning” doesn’t provide that.

It suggests there is only one way to judge the success or failure of a project. Just because a piece of work didn’t win an award doesn’t mean that it didn’t move the needle for the client, it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t good and it doesn’t mean (most importantly in my opinion) that the client didn’t love it.

For these reasons, at BIKLOPS we try not to focus on awards. Instead of using awards as your starting point, maybe try following these basic rules instead:

1. solve the problem
2. solve it beautifully
3. solve the problem of where to put all your awards

Seriously though, that’s really it. If you’re solving the problem and doing it in a way that you can be proud of, you’ve already won.