Did we forget it’s advertising, not art?
During my career, I’ve been lucky enough to judge some award shows. It’s an amazing experience to sit in a room of your peers and watch as work rises to the top in an industry with an output that is judged subjectively, like music or film. The problem is, advertising is not music or film. Sure, ads might be films with beautifully scored music, but what we make is meant to serve a purpose beyond itself. Art is the product in the entertainment industry, but in advertising, we’re not selling art. We’re selling our clients’ products and services.
For a while, I thought I was naïve. No one else seemed to mind that nearly every category of nearly every advertising award show is devoid of results. In fact, results are so rarely necessary that special separate categories – or even separate award shows – are created just for effectiveness. But even those seem to be half-heartedly prioritizing results.
I get it. It can be incredibly difficult or, dare I say, occasionally impossible to unpack the impact a piece of advertising had on brand perception, purchase intent, sales, etc. Sometimes these results can take more time to emerge than the traditional awards show eligibility cycle. Sometimes it’s impossible to tell which piece of work had what impact when it was all in market at once. But judging advertising on creativity for creativity’s sake is ridiculous, ego-driven behavior that does a disservice to clients and the industry we work in. It’s might not ever go away. But its place in the industry needs to be minimized.