Last week, for the first time, I attended an awards ceremony where my brand was nominated for an award. The nomination came as a surprise as it was from industry clients. I must admit, after the incredulity wore off, I began to feel a little chuffed, as well as tremendously grateful.  Truth be told, I am not a fan of local awards. Even though I feel that they are important to some extent, there is always a lingering feeling that they celebrate and perhaps nurture a big fish in a small pond syndrome. However I was determine to put my skepticism aside, observe and perhaps learn what the industry at large was doing in terms of ideation and innovation.

The venue was impressive and the flow of cocktails and drinks more so.  There was definitely a lot of flash, pomp and ceremony to start and there was excitement in the air, fuel high on alcohol and hunger pangs. The line-up of nominees were equally impressive and kudos to the organisers for being as inclusive as possible in a rather diverse and sometimes fragmented industry such as branding, advertising, media, events and communications. There were awards for PR, Brand Consultancy, Media, Social Media, Viral etc.. Even my clients were suitably impressed as they valiantly came to cheer me on. The night was looking promising.

As the night wore on, I could not help thinking to myself that the organisers themselves who were giving out accolades could perhaps do with a spot of branding. Sometimes the hardest thing to brand is your own organsiation.

Awards in general, are created to recognise leaders and even visionaries in the field who have performed above and beyond, or have created something so out of the norm that other leaders would applaud whilst silently wishing they had thought of the idea themselves. I was all set to hear a great opening speech or read an inspiring rationale for the awards – what compelled them to create this award and why was it so important for the industry to fight for the continuation of the awards? Sadly there was none, not even a summarised ‘state of the industry’ speech that made you want to stand up, cheer and congratulate your fellow colleagues for staying to fight the good fight. 

Whilst I am sure there were great reasons why certain companies and campaigns won, I was left in the dark as to why.  For example in the category of Best Media Placement,  what we saw were a whole host of advertising visuals that were created by creative agencies who were sadly not credited. Throughout the night, my clients who were seated next to me kept asking if I knew why a certain campaign won and I had to say that I did not know. So this begs the question – can a media campaign be judged great on its own when its success is so intrinsically linked to the communications strategy and creatives done by the advertising agency? 

When they announced the three winners for my category, I cheered and really wanted to know why they were chosen. I wanted to learn how I could improve from these leaders. There were photos displayed, again with no rationale.  Perhaps they should take a tip from the Oscars who are excellent at demonstrating the highlights of each ‘Best Picture’ nominee. The rest of the night’s proceedings continued in the same vein as award after award was handed out, and each recipient came onstage and did the obligatory ‘pose for trophy’ photos.  After a while, it all became a blur and there was more action to be found outside by the bar than in the main event hall.

If the awards were held so that the industry could get together and just have a night of celebration, then I feel the event was a success. I am sure that many who came that night had a really good time. I myself was immensely grateful that my clients and associates came to offer their love and support – I enjoyed their company tremendously.  However if it was created to raise industry standards, to motivate and inspire others to strive harder, then I feel it might have missed the mark.