Sorting Award Shows

Ben Garfinkel – One Comment

Just today I was trying to decide whether to bother entering a few of our recent web projects into the W3 Awards and was in a bit of a fence-sitting position about it.

Over the course of a year we are becoming bombarded by more and more award show calls-for-entries. This wasn’t a bad thing when we were researching what we wanted to do for our Graphex 2008 website, but it can be downright frustrating, time and cash consuming wading through the chaff and determining which shows to enter. Sometimes it’s easy; such as when it’s a very prestigious show with a stellar reputation, a good local/regional show and one with a good track record. Shows with brand name recognition such as Communication Arts, One Show, Lotus Awards, Webbys, Graphex (of course!) etc fall into this category for us. And yes, even these are debatable.

Then there are shows we’ve never heard of, or with questionable materials (I mean, if you can’t design a decent CFE, how are you going to judge our work and by what standards?

Then there’s the consideration of fit. Do I really want to enter a project done for a university into a consumer category? Or, if the show has so many categories that I can find one that’s an exact match for almost any work in any industry, what are they trying to accomplish and how competitive is the show? Are they awarding one winner in each category or the top percentage of entries? Do they charge you more for a recognition certificate or statue? Who are the judges? What sort of work has won in the past? You get my point.

I suppose there are some firms that set aside a decent budget to enter awards as a form of marketing strategy. There are certainly no shortage of clients looking to work for award winning agencies, but that’s not guarantee they are going to get award winning work. Then again, what else can we do with our often limited resources than hand it over to award shows that seem to exist merely as a business to make their producers money? I suggest there are quite a few things we can think of. As long as we can keep a steady roster of clients interested in good, solid, effective and business-objective-oriented work and not simply chase awards at all costs. We love it when these things can coexist of course.

We’ll always enter our best work into the best shows (not throw everything at every show in every category), but personally, we’d rather pay our staff more money, take them out more often or treat our great clients to a nice meal than toss a wad of cash at award shows that exist solely to make money.

What’s your experience, and what shows do you regard as the best? Be great to have a decent list and list some of your experiences here.