Name game fame shame blame

Here’s an article that endeavours to explain the disappearance of ‘names’ in the world of advertising (thanks, V).

It’s an interesting theory but I’m not sure I buy it.

The main hole lies in the assertion that the credit is spread throughout many names these days because integrated campaigns are the result of many people’s contributions. But that suggests that people have stopped making successful work in conventional media. Although there are still people producing good (if not classic) work in these areas, they have little fame or standing to show for their skillz.

I’ve mentioned this before, but in the context of this article it’s probably worth repeating that the most successful TV/print/radio ads of the last few years have not made ‘names’ of the teams behind them. Why? Well, there are probably many reasons, but I think one of them is the Campaign Big Awards. Before they existed there were five easily digestible award schemes in this country – Campaign Press, Campaign Poster, D&AD, Creative Circle and BTAA  – you knew what they were for and a handy book or booklet (free with Campaign in the cases of the first two and the last) let everyone in adland know what the good work was and who was responsible for it. If someone’s name featured several times it was plain to see and that contributed to the status of the ‘name’.

Now Press and Poster have been taken away, along with any status they could afford, to be replaced by a new scheme which has zero status. It’s prohibitively difficult to find out who has been nominated before the Campaign Big awards and prohibitively expensive (the Big Awards book costs a tenner and I have no idea how you go about getting one) to find out who has won. But then nobody really gives a monkey’s anyway. This is because the Big Awards cover digital and, sorry my digi friends, but no one who works in above the line advertising really gives a shit who has won any of the digital awards. No one. Absolutely fucking zero people.

So the guys and gals who win these worthless digi awards get the same prize as the people who win the TV and print versions, which means that if you see one on someone’s shelf you have no idea if they made a very good TV ad (unlikely in recent years) or a banner you didn’t hate that much. This means that two sources of ATL creative prestige have been replaced by one source of creative apathy (the Big Awards have planners on the jury FFS! Who gives a fuck what they think about ads? Nobody in an ATL creative department. That’s right: absolutely fucking zero creatives in above the line agencies give a shit about planners’ opinions on finished ads, and before the planners among you get all testy about that, number one: it’s true, so live with it, and number two: I’ll bet a day’s salary you don’t give a fuck about what we think of quant versus qual or whatever the fuck it is you spend your time debating with a copy of Monocle shoved up your arses*).

True, we still have the BTAAs, but they’ve been devalued in recent years by a lack of truly great TV ads. Creative Circle enjoyed a brief renaissance under Mark Denton but took a step backwards this year by awarding Campaign some kind of prize and allowing a pair of dolly birds to choose their favourite ad of the year and award it a Gold, devaluing entirely said Gold. And that leaves us with D&AD: foreign jurors none of us has heard of means we can’t value the opinions of the juries. What have you done, Mr. CD of TBWA Hockenheim? Madame ECD of Publicis Djakarta? To be honest, we can’t be fucked to find out. If it was something really significant we’d have heard of you, but it isn’t, so we haven’t, so meh to the lot of you. And now that the Annual is online, the hard-copy book isn’t really worth waiting for. We already know what’s in it, and it can’t play TV ads or integrated case studies like the web version can.

So there aren’t really any creative awards worth giving a shit about anymore, ergo, it doesn’t matter who has won them, ergo there are very few opportunities for creatives to gain status in 2011.

That’s why, in the UK at least, there are no Names.

Interesting to hear that it’s happening elsewhere.

*Smiley face made out of punctuation