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Blog. Creative awards; how important are they?

Why do agencies, talent and clients care so much about awards? What are they all about?

Posted by Liam Farrell

What are these so called ”creative awards anyway and why do agencies get so hyped about them? Do they mean anything? Are they legit and authentic indicators of an agency’s quality and standards? Do they pay dividends or are they all gloss and nonsense? Read on to find out our take on the creative awards industry.

Creative awards are the creative industry’s way of recognising excellence in its various fields. They cover all manor of creative outpourings from agencies working in fields as diverse as advertising to web design.

A lot of advertising awards are produced by media companies or magazines. These are professional companies whose business is the promotion of excellence within their chosen industry. Many creative awards shows achieve legendary status such as Cannes Lion, Rebrand or D&AD. These shows are considered some of the biggest in the creative industry. 

How do creative awards work?

To the layman, an award is something you give someone when they’ve done a good job. Award shows are a little bit different; you get awarded if your work is good but first you have to pay before you can submit. Creative award shows are therefore a business and their revenues come from hopeful entrants who want their work seen by a panel of esteemed judges, with the hope of picking up a coveted trophy. Many creative awards provide a ceremonial event where the winners pick up their awards and receive applause from their peers. These too are paid for on a tiered level – the better the table, the bigger the fee.

Creative awards events are great for building your professional network; everyone who is going to win an award is present and they are usually the best-of-the-best in your industry. Wine flows freely, adding to the jovial, post-reward mood while creating a great space to press the flesh with genuine talent. 

The awards are pretty good for showcasing your talent to your peer group, clients and prospective team members alike and they are a great way to benchmark your work vs the best in the industry. Awards and their respective shows are really good for building your agency brand. While awards are not proven to win you a single piece of new business they can help clients tick their ‘confidence box’. If you’ve won awards you must be good, right? Also, having a shiny trophy cabinet full of gold and silver in your reception always looks good!  

So who judges the judged?

Judges are typically selected by the awards companies from industry insiders and depending on the focus of the creative awards, the judges could be clients rather than agency people. The esteem of the judge’s personal reputation lends credibility to the creative awards given; the more kudos the judging panel has, the better the award. Agencies really want to enter awards with a high degree of credibility. Weak panels can kill an award show’s kudos. 

So are creative awards worth entering?

To paraphrase; you have to be in them to win them… but how do they benefit an agency? Well there are many benefits; firstly they show your work has been peer-reviewed. Secondly, creative awards are great CV fodder regardless of whether you‘re creative or in accounts. Thirdly, clients like awards as it gives them confidence that the agency is a quality firm who can deliver great work. They might never win you a project but they certainly help you to get noticed and offer great bragging rights. Finally, good talent like agencies with lots of awards as it shows they take their work seriously and aim high. 

From experience I would say it is better to have a shed load of awards and talent than talent alone. CDs will like that you have been passionate enough to enter them and if your portfolio is up to sniff then they are a nice bit of garnish to add on top. 

Want to win an award? Here is a show case of great shows to consider:

Rebrand Awards
IVIA Awards
Design & Design
Cannes Lion
Dubai Lynx
Transform Awards

Some of our international awards are here.


Unisono has won a lot of transform awards

If you've done great work, you will want a pat on the back. Creative awards are the industry's way of doing that.

Oh, what a shock. My career must be slipping. This is the first time I've been available to pick up an award.
Michael Caine
Large number of awards in a trophy cabinet

Win awards for your own self esteem, they are great at building your confidence.

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