‘Awards need to be more meaningful,’ says Spark MD Yusuf Pingar

I love creative people. I learn from them, I am inspired by them and I admire their abil- ity to see what others don’t. I believe that everyone has within them a spark of creativity and I am impressed by those who reach the pinnacle of our industry by nurturing their latent talent.

However, as much as I extol these individual’s virtues as being the essential imaginative drivers of our industry, I have to acknowledge a yawning chasm between creative dreaming and operational effectiveness.

Anyone who has worked in a large or award-winning agency knows a few things about senior creative talent. They may be lofty visionaries who envisage and generate great content, but where they excel in in terms of creativity they often lack in proficiency with finance and numbers. In my experience, such types can be disorganised, managerially inefficient and incapable of meeting deadlines. These qualities that would make them unfit for most industries for some reason seem to be tolerated in ours with those who exhibit such tendencies indulged as having an ‘artistic temperament.’

So, with this in mind, why is it that the most highly regarded and prestigious creative awards shows are primarily judged by creative types? This just doesn’t make sense. Agreed, these guys run depart- ments but do they really know how to measure bottom line success? I see campaigns that are conceived solely for the sake of winning awards – cam- paigns that would never see the light of day if their true impact were known. This is simply because very few awards programmes measure success in terms of their business and instead focus on their inventive conception.

Currently, the situation is that most of the work that wins an award is produced by the big 10 agencies and has been judged by the creative heads of these big 10. It all comes across as a bit incestuous and nothing more than a mutual back-slapping exercise. How do we define achievement in an awards show that’s going to be judged by the same guys who submitted the work? It feels a lot like nepotism to me.

We are in the business of selling products and services and in building brands. It is vital that we make an emo- tional connection with the consumer but this connection must have tangible results rather than just be an artistic flourish. Living in the consumers’ hearts is only of value if it results in an increase in the bottom line. Great adver- tising is about creative work that actually sells and I believe that this should be reflected in the composition of judges at awards shows. How about having a consumer panel, or professionals from other industries as jury members?

I believe that the creative awards scene needs to be made more meaningful by having a greater cross section of people involved. Why can’t I see an advertising research company’s focus group as head judge at an awards show? Or the strategy head of a regional star brand? Is the reason that these people are perceived as not being creative enough? It’s about time this perception changes.