AWARDS. AN ADDICTION OF SORTS
What comes to your mind when you hear the word “addiction”? Love? Sex? Drugs? Alcohol? Cigarettes? Potato chips? Television? The sympathetic voice that says “the poor old soul” or is it the more impassive “what was he thinking?” Addiction courts many things, and all of them are mostly negative. But, not every addiction gets you thrown into rehab where you could choose to be cured, or runaway again to find another haunt, or better still, fall in love with the nurse. We are talking about a “good” kind of addiction. Yes, it still does mess with your head quite a bit. It still gives you sleepless nights, and you would go to any lengths to have it. And when you do finally get it, the high keeps you coming back for more. So what’s “good” about it? Well, let’s wipe that puzzled expression off your face. We are talking about awards.
“Award. Award. Award.” Keep saying it any longer, and you might stab the guy sitting next to you just to increase your chances of getting one. And like every addiction, awards too have their fair share of good and bad “trips”, whether it is in the pride, the glory, and the glamour or the jealousy, the regret, and the sorrow.
Over the years, awards have spun their magic on everybody – people, companies, and brands. And for those individuals from the advertising fraternity, an awards night is easier to recollect than a wedding. The frenzy, the madness, the glamour quotient, and the money involved would make any of the weddings we see in our movies seem like an afternoon tea party for senior citizens. Because, after all the smoke and your double-vision clears, what remains (if you remember) is a handful of shiny metal that will give occupy the most admirable pedestal on your shelf. But that is only the tip of the iceberg. Now, let’s go back a few months. The preparation, the running around, the shouting, the hustling and the bustling that goes on inside an ad agency in anticipation of an awards ceremony would make Gordon Ramsey’s kitchen on a bad day seem like just a ride in an elevator with Kenny G playing softly in the background. Right from the brainstorming sessions to the late nights of creative highs and lows, to quarrelling and eventually, begging and bribing your account manager to sell the idea to the client, to creating the whole aura around your entry in terms of packaging and presentation so as to ‘wow’ the jury, participating in an award function is crazy, fun, and downright stressful. It’s a process that always leaves you wanting for more. But that is if, and only if, you are addicted to such a high.
But, how do awards impact brands, agencies, and people?
Obviously, it’s a great feeling to be associated with award-winning work. A great feeling unless it’s all “scam-work”. I will talk about “scam-work” and ‘scamsters’ in another post. Oh, the nasty stories you will hear about the armpit of advertising will…Wait! Let’s get back. That post is for some other time.
The latest breed of award-hungry people show a lot more passion and fire when it comes to winning and have a firm resolve to get their names etched in history. Youngsters who make their way into the field are made to understand the need to win awards at a very early stage. The belief and the must-win desire are imbibed in them way before they even get their minds ticking on brands. It’s like throwing infants in a pool so that their instincts kick in and they start swimming. ‘Is this Good or bad?’ is a debate that we will not get into here. Nonetheless, the recognition that comes along with these big-gun awards is far-reaching and addictive. From an agency’s perspective, awards are a magnet. More than the obvious fame, awards attract talent, because everybody wants to jump into the award bandwagon. For a brand, it is recognition, recall, and overall brand building. Awards add spunk to the brand and the campaign that won ensures they stay longer in our memories. Nothing lifts a brand than winning continuously, but that is no easy task. There are a lot of factors that influence this, including the people involved, both on the client’s side and the agency side. And more importantly, the costs involved in taking part in some of the top-notch award functions are exorbitant. It is an expensive addiction. But, if taken in the right doses, everything seems perfect.
When I say right doses, you need to know that each award has its own level of potency. Some induce large amounts of euphoria in short bursts, others for long periods. It can change the way you think to a large extent. While some can handle it, others lose it, and of those who lose it, some never recover. When it comes to brands, some awards can help brands grow, some add glamour, and some help brands prove a point.
It’s important to know and understand the history of the award you are gunning for. Some of them might just be duds, created just to boost your ego and of no real meaning or purpose at all. Strictly avoid them.
I know I have jumped from one thought to the other in every paragraph. But that’s the only way I could think of putting them down as and when I tripped on them.
At the end of the day, winning an award is more than an addiction. It’s more than just a rush of blood to the head. Every moment feels like what you would feel just before your first bungee jump. But for now, this is just a small dose. Small enough to get all of you acquainted to a different kind of high.
PS: My special thanks to Ajay, our fabulous copywriter who chipped in with a lot more cheeky thoughts than I expected to make this a fun read.