The School of Visual Concepts’ students have always made a strong showing in the The Seattle Show, the region’s premier competition for honoring creativity in advertising, design, and interactive. But is entering awards competitions really good for business? And how should in-house design groups approach shows? SVC Director, Larry Asher takes on the latter question this essay authored after the last Seattle Show.
The fame may be fleeting, but in a world where recognition is hard to come by, the warm, fuzzy glow of hearing you’ve just snagged a Batchy, a Chubby, or a Fancy Anvil (all real creative awards show names, we must point out) can be irresistible.
But, as a creative department or in-house group manager, should you encourage such egomania run amuck? All immodesty aside, “yes.” Creative competitions can be good for business—especially in-house business—for some reasons that go well beyond pumping up flagging self-esteem. Consider:
Recruiting. Most in-house groups tend to toil in obscurity under the best of conditions. Getting your work in a high-profile design or advertising competition lets potential staffers know you exist and that you salute the right flag. Those who share your dedication to quality will recognize your shared values and be far more likely to send you their portfolios. This is especially important if you’d like to recruit people outside your market or industry.
Profile-Raising. A constant concern of in-house group managers is the lack of respect for their departments from corporate management. Sometimes a little piece of award show hardware for the boss’s bookshelf can be just the thing to start turning that opinion around. At the very least, the appointment you make to present that award to those up the ladder can also serve as the forum for explaining how your group contributes to the organization, both financially and as brand experts.
Morale-Building. There’s one advertising awards competition that will send you an impressive very-Oscar-like statuette if you can breathe through your nose and write the check for the entry fee. While that bar may be a bit too low, there is nevertheless something very satisfying and reinforcing about winning an award. Even a cheap compliment is better than an insult.
So, by entering your best work in competitions—whether you win anything or not—you’re sending a message to your staff about the level of quality you value. The bonus, if you do win, is that you’ll automatically increase the job satisfaction index of those people who worked on the project (Let this also be a reminder to make sure that credit is given completely and freely on entry forms).
While awards competitions specifically for in-house groups are few, HOW does offer an In-House Design Group of the Year Award to the corporate department that wins the most honors in their individual design competitions. There is only one thing left to say on this topic: Good luck!