This piece was penned by Prentice Mathew, a senior art director. In the current annual fervor of Cannes, he claims “advertising awards are now for losers.” You might agree. You might find it heresy. Either way, it’s an interesting read. Anyone agree? Disagree? (And is it easier to agree or disagree based on how many awards you won this year?)
Ten years ago, I went to bed really bummed that one of my ads didn’t make it into the Communication Arts annual. The next day, it was September 11, 2001, and getting into CA didn’t seem like a big deal.
Advertising can be a lot of fun. And we’re lucky to be in this industry. But it’s important to keep things in perspective.
For a more detailed post on this story, click here.
The Lürzer’s Archive Student of the Year Award is open for voting. Check out the nominees. And if you’re a first year portfolio school student, start trying to figure out how you’re going to be nominated next year.
In the ad business, there are a lot of things that will compete for your attention on a daily basis. Sometimes it helps me sort through my priorities by putting them in these categories:
1) Things That Matter/Don’t Matter
2) Things You Can Affect/Can’t Affect (right now)
If you’re into Venn diagrams, it might look like this:
Anything that doesn’t fall into the sweet spot (something that matters AND you can affect right now), is a distraction. Don’t let it be. Focus. Your work, right now, is what matters and what you can affect.
There are three topics that students sometimes ask me about:
99% of the time these things are distractions. They fall outside of that center area.
SALARY: You negotiate your salary when you switch jobs and you might occasionally get a raise. But for the most part, your salary doesn’t matter on a daily basis. And the way you affect your salary is to do consistently great work. So don’t think about your salary. Focus on your work.
AWARDS: Award shows are full of brilliant work, but they’re also political, subjective and for the most part arbitrary. So while award annuals can be great for inspiration, trying to figure out why a campaign won an award and how you can emulate it leads to distraction and potentially madness. If you do snag a big award, good for you. It can open doors. But a common side effect is an inflated ego. It’s your prerogative if you want to weld your Cannes Lion to the hood of your Cadillac, but my advice would be a slightly more humble approach: say thanks to those who congratulate you, list the award on your resume, then put it in a drawer and forget you ever won it. Winning awards comes from doing consistently great work. So focus on your work.
TITLES: This may be the most arbitrary of them all. Different agencies have different structures and different systems, and titles at some agencies are more meaningful than others (a black belt under Dan Wieden means more than a black belt under Joe Schmo). Plus, it’s become trendy to rename titles so they sound more progressive (Senior Visual Content Engineer?), so they’re becoming even less meaningful. I’d say titles almost fall outside of the “THINGS THAT MATTER” circle. And the little they do matter, they’re like salary and awards in that they follow from doing consistently great work. So focus on your work.
Focus on your work. Focus on your work. Focus on your work. The one thing that you can impact right now. And it should go without saying that time spent thinking about/discussing the salary, title or awards of other people is an even bigger distraction. Because not only can you not affect those things, they don’t matter.
An ad competition sponsored by TED? I’ll take that over almost any award that’s out there. How about you?
I’m guessing there are a lot of pieces in that pile that will still be featured on the agency web site, and in the books of the ADs and CDs who created it. There are probably some really nice lines and cool art direction in there. But even though they paid the $350-per-piece entry fee, they still ended up in this pile.
I’m sure you’ve already tapped into this, but if you haven’t checked out the Tomorrow Award winners, click here.