Why we don't enter awards… And why I irritate Wayne.


Why we don’t enter awards… And why I irritate Wayne. I have this friend. Let’s call him Wayne. He works in advertising. I don’t think I’m being unkind if I were to describe him as being a bit preoccupied with status. Obsessed would be more accurate.

Wayne has this thing about titles. It is Very Important to him that everyone knows what his title is, and that is he is an Executive Creative Director. Not a designer, not a writer, not an art director. Oh, and what is also Very Important is that he is an Award Winning Executive Creative Director. With all these awards, you see. Hundreds of them.

And it shits Wayne no end when he learnt we had one of these London International awards (and he doesn’t). Apparently they are a Big Deal —- one of the super prestigious awards. I explained to Wayne how we won it.

London International Awards We had an intern. They ran out of work, so I got them to make a list of recent work and enter it into a bunch of awards.

At the time, our own site was very strange, cryptic experience, built entirely in Flash. Such things were all the rage at the time (circa 2001 dotcom). There was this looping music track, and when you rolled over parts, things popped out and it made more sounds.

We’ve been around for + 20 years, and we’ve had lots of different web sites. I can honestly say this one was one of the worst from a customer POV. It was pretty, but there was no way you could work out what Red Ant actually did, or even how to contact us if you were intrigued enough to find out. There was a phone number in 6pt text, but it was so blurry it was hard to read. The loading sequence (anyone remember them?) was Pixar level epic- it came in at a healthy 1.4mb.

So our intern entered that site, along with some other much better projects, into various awards. And several months later we got an email that we’d won one. And for some reason which I’ve forgotten, this then automatically entered us into the international version of that award.

Several months after that, we got an email asking how many people would be attending the award ceremony. In London. Next week.

I thought it was a joke. Turns out it wasn’t. And they strongly hinted that it would be worthwhile that someone was there. So I scrambled around to try to find anyone that could attend at short notice. To cut a long story short: one of the team had an ex boyfriend who happened to be in London. But they’d only just broken up, so it could be tricky. Nice Ex Boyfriend finally agreed, and was kind enough to turn up in a tuxedo to accept this award. Which at this stage I still thought might be some elaborate joke.

A few months later Nice Ex Boyfriend came back to Sydney, and we got our award. And this big glossy photo of him accepting the award. Weird.

Back to Wayne: he has the shits because this all happened in such a random way. He doesn’t think we really deserve it. I know we don’t. The other projects were much better, but for some reason some of the judges must have really had a thing about that crazy bleeping Flash site. A subjective decision, based on unknown criteria. And we didn’t even have our act together to turn up. Wayne would have.

Since then, the awards scene has leaped ahead. You can become “Agency of the Year” in about 10 different ways (each industry organisation and publication seems to have one). Then there are the flavours —- digital, mobile, influencer, PR —- the list is endless. Or you might be the fastest growing (so you doubled your staff from 1 to 2, or increased earnings a gazillion percent from losing money to making a little bit). A few years ago one of the anointed #1 top digital agency was actually shut down by the time the award was announced. Each time, an awards scheme is taking an entry fee. Oh, but there is a party —- Wayne loves the parties. All that networking with all those other Award Winning Executive Creative Directors.

So that’s why I irritate Wayne. And after 20 years we still don’t see awards as an indicator of anything much. Other people share this view.

You stalk our Streetview and spot the award on top of the bookshelf near the ladder. You’ll be automatically entered into our prestigious Web Site Visitor of The Year awards if you can find it!


I have this friend. Let's call him Wayne. He works in advertising.