Ted Horton: Awards are like the new FIFA they’ve ‘corrupted what we’re here for’

Ted Horton speaking at Mumbrella360

Ted Horton speaking at Mumbrella360

Creative ad legend Ted Horton has compared agencies chasing awards to a cult, suggesting the desire for awards has “corrupted what we’re here for”.

Speaking at today’s Mumbrella360 conference in Sydney the founder of creative ad agency Big Red, best known for its recent work for Coles, said the awards fascination makes the ad industry as a business look “self-obssessed”.

“I haven’t entered awards since 1991. I stopped because I lived in that world, which I call planet advertising, awards are totally out of control. It’s just taken over,” Horton said.

“It’s a cult, someone said ‘It’s like the new FIFA’. It’s that bad, it’s just corrupted what we’re here for. It’s out of balance. But I understand that people want their work recognised, even Jesus Christ liked to be praised.”

He added: “It used to the cherry on top, the icing on top of the cake, now it’s the entire cake too. It’s like the cake show my wife insists I watch – and it’s all icing and all fancy and it’s all that but I never see them making the cake and that’s what awards and advertising are like now.”

Horton said the drive to win awards is “a little bit cultish”, comparing it to Scientology.

“And so as a business we’re seen as just self-obsessed, it just preys on creatives insecurities,” he said.

“Then we get to the stage where we have to tell them how effective we are, so what do we do? We come up with an award for effectiveness. It’s crazy for even effectiveness we have to have an award for it! It just drives me nuts.”

Horton warned the industry will not have a future if it continues to be so preoccupied with awards.

“It doesn’t have a future if it doesn’t realise we have to actually concentrate on the cake and understand that the cherry and icing is just that, the cherry and icing on top,” he said.

“Otherwise we’ll continue to become less relevant and clients will look elsewhere.”

Horton further warned agencies need to stop living in a bubble where they “believe they’re immune from the same pressures” clients are facing.

“Agencies to be successful have to find better, faster, cheaper ways to do things constantly because I don’t think there’d be a client here who isn’t every day being forced to find a better, faster, cheaper way to produce their products or to sell them,” he said.

“I don’t think agencies can continue to live in this bubble where they try to believe they’re immune from the same pressures our clients find themselves in.

“That’s why our philosophy is better, faster, cheaper not follow the money.”

Miranda Ward



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