Guest posting: There’s an award in every brief

Now that he’s back at his desk with three Grand Prix Lions for company, Sean Cummins argues that you shouldn’t get fixated on winning awards.

First, what a week. We were humbled by the attention – not just the awards – that Best Job attracted.  

As for the awards themselves. We feel honoured, adored, valued and as Sally Field once said in a gushy Oscars speech, “loved”.

What has been amazing is the number of well wishers that have come to us via email. My mobile phone has been in meltdown since day one. Genuine warmth from Australian colleagues from home and around the world.

As you’ll probably know, the Titanium went to the Obama campaign. I never felt that we were genuinely a chance for that. But the buzz all last week was we might have had a shot. But I rarely listen to hype.

A lot like the integrated category, Best Job wasn’t technically right for it. Titanium is for almost “non advertising”. It’s a funny award really. It’s not Best of Show per se. But almost showing advertising at its best, most noblest and arguably at its least advertising-ish. So it generally doesn’t get awarded to commercial advertising campaigns. And likewise, we weren’t technically integrated because we didnt have the traditional print, tv outdoor components that cross all media along with digital. So no surprises there.

Best Job seems to have restored people’s faith in the craft of advertising. It wasn’t a charity campaign. It wasn’t a campaign about climate change, terrorism, health issues, poverty or car accidents. It was a happy, optimistic positive sales job for a tourism destination. It didn’t use fear or drama or emotional blackmail. It wasn’t  about politics or religion. It was just saying the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef was a wonderful place to visit.

One thing, as many of my creative guys know, I am not fixated by winning awards. There are many people in the industry whose sole motivation is to win at Cannes. Full stop. These people spend their careers trying to predict trends in creativity, decoding past winners and finding willing clients who will sponsor their proactive work – at no cost but the use of their logos. Or as most people call it -“scam” work. We don’t do that here. And I have seen guys try. And generally it doesn’t work anyway.

I like winning awards. And the best way to win is to be pure to the brief. Answer it well. With honesty to the end goal. And never assume one category is more likely to win than another. For years the travel category has been ordinary. Does “Best Job” make it sexy? Who knows. All I know is there is potentially an award in every brief.  The answer is always near the problem. It never gets presented on a velvet pillow. It takes guts and determination to do something good. It also takes a client to buy it. And that’s the other art of winning awards. Getting a client to buy the idea in the first place.

And now its done, we’re back to work. Solving problems for our clients. And who knows, maybe creating next year’s Cannes Grand prix work. Who knows?  Cos I don’t!


Sean Cummins is the founder and ECD of Cummins Nitro. The agency was behind Tourism Queensland’s Best Job In The World promotion, which won three grand prix at the Cannes Lions last week.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.