When a business wins an award, it contacts its agency and asks it to put together an ad to publicize the fact. When an agency wins an award, it rushes to reassure its clients that the awards are just a recruitment tool, and the agency's only real concern is its clients' ROI.
Awards matter. It's silly to pretend they don't. The awards give you something to push up against. Something to inspire you when you're tired. Something to reward you for all the late nights and lost weekends. And something objective to judge this awfully subjective industry against.
Sure, we'd rather use other measurements. Like, say, our clients' profits. But advertising - and even marketing - are only pieces of a company's profitability. You can run the best ad in history, but if your shipment sinks halfway across the Atlantic, you're still doomed.
Likewise, awareness and recall measurements don't tell the whole story. I'm aware of snow, human misery, and all sorts of other things I wish I wasn't. I recall those horrible "He went to Jared" ads so well that I've pledged never to buy anything from Jared. Ever.
Engagement sounds swell, but no one has a clue how to measure it. Ditto ROI. (Tell me, how much brand advertising is needed to support a consumer activation tactic?)
The only concrete thing a creative - especially a young creative - has to go on is how well his work stacks up against his peers. And in my mind, there is no local show in the nation that gives you a clearer picture of where you stand than the Denver 50.
Not too long ago, I received an email stating that if the New Denver Ad Club expects people to enter the Denver 50, we needed to provide a reason besides, "It's a good way to support the market."
Part of me says that's a lame assertion. I know dozens of people who have quietly donated hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to support this market. But screw it. I'll play.
Let's say you genuinely don't care about building a great branding community in the Denver metro area. In fact, let's say you hate this backwater cowtown and are just counting the days until Juan Cabral swoops down on a flying white stallion and whisks you away to London. Guess what? You should still enter the Denver 50. Here are four reasons why.
It gives nontraditional shops a seat at the table - It is easy for an interactive or public relations agency to win an award at a category-driven show. But if they want strategic or branding responsibilities, they need to prove they can develop big ideas. The Denver 50 provides a level playing field. Last year, about half the winning ideas included digital components.
It's made for the modern era - Not so long ago, three clever ads were all you needed to prove your creative mettle. Not anymore. Campaigns like Beta 7 have exploded the definition of what makes great advertising. Clients expect agencies to come up with great print and broadcast and great microsites and witty blogs and gripping SMS and engaging games and strange guerilla demonstrations and oddly placed out-of-home. And they should. Because consumers are tuning out traditional advertising and rewarding brands like Converse and Scion, which are providing newer, cooler, more creative experiences. Only the Denver 50 is designed specifically to award that sort of thinking.
It'll make you famous - We created the Denver 50's structure to get maximum attention from the national community. We built a showbook that we mailed to ad schools, media outlets, and great agencies in other markets. And by only giving 50 awards, we guarantee that each winner gets lots of recognition. (Yes, Cannes would make you more famous. Duh.)
Our judges are superstars - There is no local show anywhere that attracts the level of judges that the Denver 50 attracts. Some are intrigued by our innovative format. Others by our online judging system, which gives them two weeks to sort through entries at their leisure. Want to get your work in front of the ECDs of TBWA\Chiat\Day or Bartle Bogle Hegarty or JWT/NY? Enter the Denver 50. (Read more about why judges love the Denver 50 on the Egotist.)
The award shows matter. And the Denver 50 matters a lot. To the community. The agencies. And the individual winners. Hopefully we'll see your best ideas on August 22.
[Ed. - My opinions do not necessarily reflect the official opinions of the NDAC or Karsh\Hagan. Crossposts in their entirety are welcome under a Creative Commons by license.]