Look beyond creative awards to boost agency credentials, warn new business experts

Awards are important to help marketers benchmark potential partners, but Agency of the Year and effectiveness awards are more impressive when it comes to winning new business according to a panel of industry experts.

When asked at The Source New Biz breakfast this morning about the recent controversy over creative awards and a series of ‘one-off’ executions which were entered into Cannes Lions, co-founder of business consultancy the Leach Partnership William Leach said marketers need to use them to gauge which agencies are doing well.

“There are not many things you can do which will give you some kind of benchmark,” he added. “You don’t want to reveal your figures, you don’t want to reveal growth, so one of the things is winning new business as clients like to go with a successful company. But how else will they benchmark you.

“So awards are actually a very good thing to benchmark. And when you think of awards think of the Telstra Business Awards, the Boss Magazine Awards, culture awards as well as creative awards, so if they level the creative awards thing against you and say ‘right now that’s all scammy’ you can say ‘maybe, but we we’re a top 15 Fast Company and we won the Telstra Business Awards and we were Mumbrella’s Agency of the Year.

“So awards are very very important for benchmarking and new business, so you should be entering them, and don’t do the scam ads and you’ll be OK.”

However, principal of WalkerMoult Tom Moult said he felt “a lot of clients aren’t interested in awards”, adding: “If you win a campaign award and show the client the ad and they don’t like it they don’t care it won an award, they know best. I think they’re only a small part of what you’ve got to do, and the risk is if you highlight them when you go in (to pitch) you can look self-interested.”

But he did acknowledge agencies which use awards successes as part of their email sign offs did catch the eye.

He added: “But, when you get an email from an agency that says NSW Agency runner up, you think they can’t be completely rubbish. BMF had a sign off saying agency of the year every year for the last decade, and you think well I’ve got to go and see those guys.”

Founder of New Business Methodology Julia Vargiu backed up Leach’s views around Agency of the Year and effectiveness awards being more impressive for clients saying ‘if you’re doing well at those then you’re fine’.

She also warned agencies to think carefully about their positioning, adding: “You also have to be careful how to position yourself as an agency, I’m fed up of seeing people claiming to be ‘ideas agencies’. Clients don’t have budgets for ideas agencies, they have budgets for advertising, media and promotional work.”

Alex Hayes


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