By Matthew Kennedy
I’ll caveat this with this is just my opinion I’m offering. Nothing more so don’t shoot me.
It seems an appropriate time to reflect on awards. We are slowly finding out D&AD results, our Cannes entries have been submitted and people are starting to set their sights on cream. I think it’s fair to say there is a strong focus on awards at the school, a reflection of the industry as a whole so the ups and downs are no doubt good training for that at least.
But one issue has raised heated debate with my peers a few times this week and that is the question of making work just to win an award. Is this a bad thing?
My current stance is I’d argue it’s not. My opinion has changed since being at SCA from reflecting upon my own experiences of awards. Sure it would be great if everyone set out to do great work and help solve the planet’s issues. But the reality is most clients want to make cash not save the planet. Therefore if awards act as a motivation for these clients to actually do some good in the world, I don’t see the problem. I’d rather see clients money spent on a doll for skin cancer, even if said doll only gets seen by 100 people. If it make one kid put sun cream on that’s more valuable than 1min self indulgent advert and some billboard sites. Don’t get me wrong it’s still bloody annoying when you see a washing up brand doing something with starving kids in Africa or alike, when there is no relevance to the product at all. But should me being annoyed at their reasoning stop good happening?
I’d argue if the outcome is doing good, no matter how small that amount of good, the motivation behind it shouldn’t matter so much. We don’t live in an ideal world. To say that you would rather the work wasn’t made because the motivation behind is what wrong, is in my opinion, wrong and somewhat pretentious.
In fact if you think about it most of us have already set out to win awards. Yes our work is trying to do good but our aim was to win a pencil or a Cannes, wasn’t it? Are you therefore not already part of the system?
And that brings me onto the scholarship competition which has just gone live. Yes another award. Again those entering are no doubt motivated by the winning of cash that pays your fees? I was. But it also had a deeper meaning for me. I used it to raise awareness of an issue I care about. My sister had skin cancer, my other sister was since diagnosed with it also and a month ago my mum was diagnosed with a melanoma. But my aim was still to win a scholarship. An award. Without the competition it’s likely I wouldn’t have raised awareness like I did. Sure I would have done something for charity, maybe a run or alike but if I’m honest the award motivated me to do something bigger.
So on that tip I’d urge you to think deeply on your stance, SCA has been a good place for me to do that and now seems like a good time.
I would also urge you to think beyond clients and maybe think about the creatives behind the work who probably had bigger ambitions for it or even reasons we might not know.
No doubt we might all get a brief one day which says the aim is to win at Cannes. Are you going to turn it away or take the opportunity to do great work, do good, oh and win an award? I think it’s an easy choice.