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We All Need Awards, But at What Price?
By: Brian Keller
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April 24 marks the 50th Andy Awards presentation. This starts a run of advertising award shows that wraps in the fall with the CLIOs on October 1. Agencies take “their awards” seriously.
The Marcus Bailey Worldwide awards team consists of Worldwide Chief Creative Officer of Global Creative M. L. Lee and award coordinator Kat Pearce.
M. L.: “How’d we do?”
Kat: “We lost The Spikes Asia, Grand Prix, probably, because we reintroduced the Geo as the iGeo in Vietnam. The Vietnamese weren’t ready…”
M. L.: “For an invasion of ideas that are good for them, and a car that’s a rolling 4,000 terabyte computer that comes in 12 ‘skins.’ You can change car color every day.”
Kat: “It was brilliant to rename it the iGeo. “It’s Electric. It won’t blow up.” Incredible tag, M. L.”
M. L: “My best. We’ll have to teach them. Escalate the campaign before the next award season. We put boots on the ground with guerilla street teams and bomb them with digital. Once Vietnam goes, Asia will fall like…Dominoes. Do we still have iGeo?”
Kat: “Yes, with cutbacks and heavy losses. Two creative groups, two account teams, four planners, eight media. All gone.”
M. L.: “Poor bastards. Damn Vietnam to hell. The Middle East?”
Kat: “Zero at Lynx/ Dubai. Lowe & Rauf, Pakistan harbored a bunch of Memac (Tunisia) staff. Memac created content for Football Club C.F Hammam LIF. Memac took gold. They got the vibe. We needed people in Pakistan. Hearts and minds, man.”
M. L: “Our interagency agreement with Memac/Ogilvy says no Pakistan. We didn’t know?”

Kat: “We felt it, but didn’t think our allies would lie.”
M. L.: “Where’s that new lawyer? Nancy? Wasn’t she at an agency? Why didn’t she know? We could have found out and gone all Zero Dark 30 on them ad-wise. ”
Kat: “She’s not ad folk. Former U.S. government agency.”
M. L.: “Understood. She knows nothing about betrayal.”
Kat: “I told her to be here; she’s about strategy, not awards. She refused and threatened to poke her eyes out. She's from Wisconsin."
M. L.: “Oh, that's rough. Get out a release about her and give her a title. Put her in charge of the accounts we lost.”
Kat: “We won the Young Guns, Australia. We had 100 guys urinating at a Rugby game to “What I Like About You.” They peed the Amsterbelgium logo into the sky. Backlit, bold, and viral. We’ve adapted it for NFL tailgating spots.”
M. L: “Beer, or any other product you need a great dance tune for, it’s the Romantics. Gold?”
Kat: “When we pay fines. Good news on the NFL adaptation. They don’t urinate in public in Green Bay, so, no royalties there. Jets fans may sue for intellectual property violations.”
M. L.: “There are Protestants in Green Bay. They won’t pee or do anything in public. We tried a spot for DeBeers with public handholding once. A tragedy. The Jets thing could be a problem. Hold it. Do we have the Amsterbelgium client?”
Kat: “Everything but the Malt Liquor Business. Our young guns peed in the trophy.”

M. L.: “Good, okay. Get her. Get the lawyer. Get her off the accounts we lost and get her on the Jets.”

Kat: “Perry and Randi, in this office, won a WIN.”

M. L.: “A WIN?”
Kat: “Woman’s Image Network.”
M. L.: “They're women?”
Kat: “It’s the flannel. At least one is a woman.”
M. L.: “Do we have the client?”
Kat: “No client. They/we won for the documentary on whale byproduct use in women’s cosmetics. We had “Save the Dolphins” and not “Save the Whales.”
M. L: “Didn’t we win First Board-Canada, and a Free Card-Italy for the integrated campaign to save the dolphins? We lost the dolphins because of whales we didn’t have?”
Kat: “Right, our system is so big we didn’t know we had dolphins in the Atlanta office. They fired us for the conflict. I’m sure there are other ocean-going mammals. We need to find them. Save them. Make it emotional. We need an award for animals.”
M. L: “Angel Paste?”
Kat: “Great, sales and stock are up. The strategy of appealing to price is paying off for their whole line.”
M. L.: “Good. Awards? What about whitening and the millennials? Did we simulate sex and give them the idea that they could have sex too by using the right toothpaste? How much gold?”
Kat: “No awards. Across the board, we completed a sound strategy against demo. The idiots don’t award for strategy and straightforward executions in traditional anymore. Our digital coupon download campaign didn’t win either, even though we got a billion downloads.”
M. L: “Disaster. We must validate with awards. How can we place ads looking for ‘award-winning rock star staff’ without awards?” 
Kat: “Worldwide, we did well.  A Lion, six Effies, four Pencils and Art Directors, three One Shows and ADDYs. We killed IAC. Twelve Webbys. We kept some clients, too.  Pure gold with Singapore tourism, but lost the account. They didn’t like the Banksy vs. King Robbo Graffiti Wars parody. They don’t like graffiti in Singapore and hated the Singapore-branded gum given to every tourist. Who knew? What are we entering next year?”
M. L.: “Everything, and there’s going to be a different result in Asia and in the Middle East.”
Awards are a wonderful validation of teamwork, talent, and understanding, but sometimes we miss the point. In the end, we need to “move the client” and know their culture intellectually. We need to know where they need to go and create accordingly. There are strategies and executions for clients that may not be award-winning but are viable. We have to take that path many times in our careers. We should do it intelligently.  

It’s great to be recognized by peers, but the biggest award we will ever receive is to keep the jobs we have and do compelling things every day.


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About the Author
Brian Keller is the Creative Director at teeny agency in Baltimore. He graduated from the University of Maryland (English), went to grad school at NYU (Cinema Studies), & attends University of Baltimore School of Law.

Brian's been working primarily in the digital space for years but enjoys all communications avenues.

He has built the creative departments at two agencies.

He likes skateboarding with his son. He also falls off his skateboard and amuses his son. When not amusing his son or riding bikes or playing basketball or working he writes for Beyond Madison Avenue & that's why Beyond Madison Avenue appears twice in this sentence.

Find him online here and at www.teenyagency.com.
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