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Medals and Marketing - Award Shows Provide Honors and Brand Boosting

Award shows are an important element of a company’s marketing plan; the top tier shows are judged by some of the highest ranking members of our industry and provide opportunity for ongoing peer and client recognition. As with film festivals, the selection process for any award show is subjective and secretive, so entering is a gamble. But for a few hundred dollars a year, your company and work could receive exposure easily worth tenfold.

To anyone who missed the unveiling of the AICP Show last week at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, I encourage you to check out the honorees online at http://www.aicpshow.com for a taste of this year’s great moments in advertising. Among those honored were Superfad for graphic design in Sprint’s “It’s What’s Happening Now: Anthem” and The Mill’s lush CG animation and visual effects in “The Caterpillar” for AMF. Beyond the :30 spot, Gatorade and Nike/LiveStrong are powerful reminders of how really good advertising can entertain, surprise and change lives. HBO’s “More Than You Imagine” takes out-of-box thinking to an outdoor cube as part of a multifaceted production that affirms the network’s focus on thought-provoking, compelling content.

Sprint "Anthem" from Süperfad on Vimeo.

The AICP Show is presented as a reel (rather than a ceremony with speeches) and is attended by 15,000 advertising industry professionals at screenings around the country. The screenings are followed by receptions and, as with other award shows, the honored entries are promoted by the organization to media outlets. In addition to the above-noted website, each  year’s collection becomes a part of the Museum of Modern Art’s Film & Television Archive. So industry exposure is matched – perhaps surpassed – by the reality that one’s daily work will be used as an educational resource and appreciated as much for art as for commercial intent.

Award shows are an important element of a company’s marketing plan; the top tier shows are judged by some of the highest ranking members of our industry and provide opportunity for ongoing peer and client recognition. As with film festivals, the selection process for any award show is subjective and secretive, so entering is a gamble. But for a few hundred dollars a year, your company and its work could receive exposure easily worth tenfold.

Before entering, research is important: look at past winners and ask yourself if your work holds up. High production value, elevated craft excellence and narrative content are key. Think of the work as a short film rather than a commercial as a useful gage. This may seem obvious, but if you’ve ever judged a festival or award show you know it’s not always common sense. Commercials with long end tags or numerous stand-alone product shots rarely make the grade. PSAs that only feature talking head interviews, celebrity content notwithstanding, are not likely winners.

Categories: Some commercial award shows only include categories that honor the ad agency or client (such as a product/service or media type) and are not especially effective means of promotion for animation, visual effects of design companies. Instead, focus your efforts on well-respected shows that feature craft categories.

Street cred: check with peers and even end clients to see how the selected award show is perceived. It’s nice to have statuettes and plaques, but not all are considered equal. In the advertising space, Cannes Lions, Clios, AICP, D&AD and a handful of others are considered top tier. That said, niche shows, similar to regional or small film festivals, often provide value and opportunity for projects that would otherwise go unrecognized by the major, international award shows. Are the judges credible? It is backed by a valued organization? How effective is the show’s outreach and promotion?  These are key pieces of information to know before spending your company’s hard earned money.

Speaking of money, award shows and promotion can pay off big time for low-to no budget projects where creative freedom made up for pay. As long as the project fits the given award show rules (some require they “air” or be shown online, others have specific low budget or spec categories), reel-boosting projects are often successful in the award department. You’ve invested sweat equity to make the spot, so why not set aside a small budget for promotion?  Last year’s Durex “Get it On” by Superfad is a great example: it was produced on a minimal budget and became a viral (one million views in a week) and award show hit, winning honors at the Clio Awards, AICP, D&AD,  Cannes and One Show. A quick Google search yields 973,000 results.

Durex "Get It On" from Süperfad on Vimeo.

"With Durex, the award wins were a great part of the reward to taking a risk and producing a project that had a very small budget,” says Superfad Executive Producer/Partner Geraint Owen. “We knew the concept was great and it was immensely popular so we hoped the award show judges would respond in kind. Every year, we reflect on the work we've created and pick what we're most proud of as our entries. Then we debate about the categories and the shows until we develop a plan. We try to think like the judges and very often fail. But when something rises to the top it is rewarding, gives you bragging rights, and helps pump perceived value into your brand."

So when thinking about the coming year consider award shows as part of your marketing budget. You don’t have a marketing budget? We gotta talk…..

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