Should awards award? If you pay to enter a race, shouldn’t there be a winner?

Travis Johnson- Mumbrella Perth 2015 3Last night’s Australian Interactive Media Industry Association Awards only saw 17 winners named across the 29 categories. In this guest post, Travis Johnson questions whether withholding awards in categories where shortlisted teams have paid to attend the ceremony is fair.

Last night we attended the AIMIA Awards and were fortunate to pick up a couple of gongs.

The location was great, had a funny host (Eddie Perfect), tasty food and great company by many of the leaders of the digital industry.

From probably something like 500 entries there were 109 finalists across 29 categories and we took our seats eagerly waiting to see which work was deemed industry best. However minutes into the awards themselves many of us were a little bewildered.

Apparently of the 29 categories, there would only be 17 categories that awarded winners and some highly commendeds within these same categories. Six categories would only receive highly commended as the top honour, with the remaining six being listed as finalists only.

aimia winnersAIMIA explained this year’s new judging process and its importance for the awards future. “One of the fundamental changes we made to this year’s judging process was to insist that an Amy is only awarded to work that judges felt grew the industry as a whole in the specific category.

On one hand you can argue that a certain standard needs to be upheld that maintains the prestige around winners, albeit a very subjective criteria that winners should ‘grow the industry’.

However just like competitive sport and competitions, on game day the best team wins. Their work may not be the best ever seen; however amongst peers and against the stated criteria they are the best of the day and I believe should be recognised as such.

For the broader advertising industry we generally don’t spend a lot of money advertising our brands to attract new business; awards tend to be our key marketing effort and allows clients to understand who is doing well and creating the best work within their specialism. They’re important. Of course some have more rigorous judging criteria and hold more weight than others but that discussion is for another day.

Companies put a ton of money into their award submissions –  it takes a lot of time to write them, produce videos, images, staging sites and of course covering the entry fees. Then if you’re a finalist you’d probably attend the awards at a couple of hundred bucks each for you and your colleagues.

Awards shows are big business. If you’re going to create them and run them, then to be fair to the efforts of those entering, awards should award.

Travis Johnson is the CEO of Mnet which won two awards out of the 17 categories awarded last night. 

Rob Wong CEO of AIMIA was invited to respond to Johnson’s remarks. He made the following statement:

“This year’s Awards judging process was enhanced to reflect the fast moving digital industry. All of our finalists demonstrated an extraordinary level of work.

“Finalists whose work stood not only above the judging criteria and the competition, but raised the bar for the industry were awarded an Amy.

“The AIMIA Awards recognised different levels of excellent and outstanding work. A highly commended was awarded to finalists who excelled in certain areas of the criteria and stood out in the market against their competition.”

  • Declaration of interest: On occasion Mumbrella has organised awards where a jury has declined to name a winner. In response to industry feedback, it is now our practice where standards are not high enough, to withdraw the category at shortlisting stage so teams are not asked to pay to attend a ceremony where their category will have no winner.

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