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Why aren’t agencies creating award-winning work all year round?

With the exception of the Effies and some categories, these advertising awards are a beauty parade of ads that never really ran, writes Scott Feasey.

March 18, 2013 6:28 by

So the big talk this week was the carnival that is the Dubai Lynx Awards, the UAE’s premier advertising awards ceremony, conference and gala dinner event.  An annual occurrence that sees the region’s advertising agencies battling it out to be crowned the most creative.

It’s something that’s been growing in size and stature over the past six years or so and can probably rival any of the other awards ceremonies around the world; maybe apart from Cannes!

The news this year was the inclusion of two new categories. First, we got the much-needed Independent Agency of the Year, which went to Interesting Times, Beirut. Congratulations guys, you deserved it. Secondly, we had the category for Branded Content & Entertainment, which just proves that ‘Brand Participation’ is growing in size and stature as a complete marketing tool.

But, to be honest, I’d have to say the awards were a bit rubbish this year, especially with nine of the 15 awards not even having a Grand Prix winner.  And I honestly believe there was no really outstanding work, apart from maybe JWT Cairo’s Micro Recharge Cards, which was my favourite. Most of the awards were spread evenly across the agencies, with no agency really standing out above the rest.

Y&R Dubai winning agency of the year must have been a mathematical calculation, because, apart from their Grand Prix in Design, I really don’t see anything great from them this year at all.

Maybe this is, in some way, a step in the right direction, because with the exception of the Effies and some categories, these awards are a beauty parade of advertising that never really ran.  For 365 days of the year we are subjected to very mediocre advertising, created by all the big agencies that then suddenly produce award-winning work at awards season.  The question is why are these agencies and clients not investing in award-winning work all year round?

If agencies win awards it should be an accident of just doing great work for their clients, not one-offs created especially for the award season.  That way the industry here will get better and stronger.

This week also saw the arrival of thenetworkone in town, the organisation that champions and brings together independent agencies on a global level.  But to be honest, it felt a bit like the meeting of the clans.  Everyone was a little wary, and at one point I did think that the room might be locked and set fire to, wiping out the entire network’s competition in one go!

I was also initially concerned when Pierre Azzam, ex COO of Impact BBDO entered the room, but it was good to see yet another network man strike out on the independent path. Walk towards the light Pierre! All the big players where there; BWM Naked,, Face to Face, Tribe, iris, Digital Republic and some of the newer guys from Bahrain, Lebanon and Cairo. A good meeting in all and I am sure it will bear fruit for the independents and the industry as a whole.

Of course the topic of conversation last week was the dancing pony for the telecom company 3, which asked more people to upload and view fun things on the web.  If you haven’t seen it, search for ‘dancing pony’ on Youtube. It’s very entertaining and engaging – the way marketing should be.

Sadly the way marketing shouldn’t be seems to still be happening in this region.  Please STOP the DJ mentions.  I don’t know who is signing this off, but this week I heard that slapstick cheester Catboy from 92fm twice read out DJ mentions for high-net-worth women’s beauty brands!  Just try to imagine it. It’s a male northerner from England, on a comedy show, talking to women about a luxury beauty product. If it was a radio ad the brand manager wouldn’t sign off his voice over, so why allow him to read from a piece of paper live on radio? Could someone please explain or justify this to me!

Hot on the heels of this marketing car crash was the brands’ radio ad that finished with the line no radio ad should ever finish with:  “wow, I have got to buy that!”  Oh my god – kill me now.

Scott Feasey is MD at iris Middle East and can be reached on [email protected].

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