In each profession, there are prizes that distinguish the best among the best. In movies, they’re the Oscars, in journalism the Pulitzers, and, in advertising, Cannes. In this month of June, Cannes 2014 will take place. Undoubtedly, an insignificant event for the rest of the world, but certainly important for the advertising industry. The best campaigns and professionals from last year will be awarded there. One can’t help feeling nervous! But at the end of the day, a prize is only a prize. Nothing else. It should never be a goal or a reason to wake up every morning and go to work.
Unfortunately, winning a Lion (that’s how the statuettes are called) in Cannes has become almost an obsession for many agencies and ad creatives. An obsession that the organization itself has learned to detect and take advantage of: inscriptions are increasingly pricey and many categories have been created, so there are more prizes to award and more happy people.
Agencies are possessed by the desire of proving they’re the most creative, and this demands winning these awards year after year. At any cost. Often it doesn’t matter whether the awarded campaign was real, whether the production was paid by the agency itself, or whether it was successful. Anything goes in order to win a Lion. In such a subjective world as ideas, Cannes has become the way of quantifying creativity. The more Lions you’ve got, the better agency or ad creative you are.
As it happens, last year I myself was awarded a Silver Lion in Cannes. There was joy, there was celebration, and of course there was champagne. But after that, there was little else. Leaving professional recognition apart, this prize has barely changed anything in my life: I keep doing my work the best way I can, for the simple satisfaction of doing a good job, not for putting another award on my shelves.
I’m not saying prizes are useless. They’ve got the mission of lifting up the battered spirits of ad creatives and agencies, which is no mean feat. They’re that slap in the back that says “very good work, keep it up”. But a slap in the back must be earned, not sought after. Making a comparison with soccer, there are players that silently break their backs on the field in every game, and others that play yearning for the applause from the stands after a dribble, for the favor of the fans. Both play the same game, but I believe it’s much more honest to play, fight and look after the team’s best interest, without seeking prizes. If they come, they’re certainly welcome; but if they don´t, believe me, they’re not so important.