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Does Cannes Really Matter?
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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"I could have a roomful of awards and it wouldn't mean beans."

-Bobby Darin

So the Cannes Festival officially announced that WPP was the Holding Company of the Year, the fourth year in the row that Sorrell's monolith has won the award. It also won the Effie award for most effective (effie = effective) holding company in the world, the third time the agency has received that honor.

The question is, who really cares? What's the point of awards festivals, anyway?

Well, like any industry, advertising wants to recognize those people and companies that pioneer creativity and new concepts. Award ceremonies are supposed to celebrate and acknowledge excellence. Then, other organizations and professionals can use those winning concepts and people as benchmarks to figure out how they can get work to be as creative and effective as the winning entries.

In client development, agencies and companies can boast and brag about the awards and recognitions they recieve, so clients may be more apt to give the nod to a company that has been recognized as being a leader amongst its peers.

But do we really see both instances happening? That's a tough argument to make.

First, the costs for agencies and companies to enter festivals like Cannes are a barrier themselves. For example, for a small agency to enter the cheapest Cannes Lions event, it would have to shell out $680 dollars. The prices go up from there. Thank goodness the Effie for effectiveness is by invitation only; but then, those who are invited are required to pay $1,733 per entry.

Can a company really justify spending that kind of money, and then turn around to the client and say that the fees they charge are streamlined to the best of its ability? Again, a tough argument.

Now, don't get us wrong; we applied for and won a creative award for content we created years ago. We fell victim to the limelight, the pomp and circumstance, and thought that the title "award-winning agency" would turn some heads.

It did...for a little while. 

And that is what awards ceremonies are for agencies and holding companies alike — a flash in the pan. Sure, the industry may be abuzz for a short while, but what matters are the actions the award winners take after the buzz wears off. Naturally, for a shop like WPP, it will continue to roll, acquire, and assimilate whatever and whoever Sir Sorrell thinks necessary in order to withstand the next shift in the industry.

What do you think? Do you agree, or do awards mean something more? It is nice to get recognized for doing good work, but when does creativity trump practicality? Did the creative actually work, instead of just looking cool? Are the Effies awarding the work they should be?

We'd love to hear your thoughts. Don't forget, you can tweet at @BeyondMadAve if you're not the comment-thread type.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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