Skip to content

The rewards of industry awards


Our industry has a love-hate relationship with awards. It feels great to celebrate our hard work. But it also takes so much effort to submit. On top of that, each year it seems there’s another new award show to enter and follow.

It all makes you wonder sometimes if awards really matter.

My answer: Absolutely yes. And here’s why.

Awards hold us all to higher standards and better work. Most people don’t wake up in the morning and say ‘hey, I want to engage with a brand today.’

It pays to pay attention to the winning work. With our industry constantly evolving, award-winning work serves as a snapshot of where we are today. And a catalyst to where we might be going. The stakes are higher for marketing these days because people don’t see marketing as simply marketing anymore. It’s treated like any other piece of content in the public domain. With no clear borders between culture, business, technology, marketing and politics, what brands say matters more than ever before. Seeing world-class work challenges us to level up the work we do for clients.

Creating value wins awards. And hearts, minds and wallets.

With everything demanding our attention, building awareness is not enough. Campaigns must create value in order to have impact. They need to be designed to have a value beyond the product, service or message we are promoting – be it problem solving, social good, driving change, empowerment, access, entertainment or utility. In other words, it needs to be something people seek out to benefit themselves or society.

Take for example, my agency Weber Shandwick’s #BuickStyle: The Ultimate Driving Shoe campaign, which captured CPRS 2019 Ace Creative PR Campaign Of The Year and a 2019 SABRE Diamond award. Our approach was to engage a younger demographic by partnering with a fashion brand to produce a new product – and tell a design and craftmanship story in the process.

Our other award-winning campaigns like the Big Mac Coin and The Woods Parka Lodge also tapped into something real to create genuine value; both have been celebrated at many awards shows so far.

And with the Toronto Raptors winning the NBA Championship, I’m reminded of Bud Light’s Victory Fridge program in Cleveland that allowed the brand to become deeply involved in celebrating and rallying a community.

Based on our benchmarking of recent award shows, the most impactful campaigns address three critical questions:

  • How do we make the idea stick? This ensures the message and activation build a bridge between the brand world and the real world. It’s about the context, and how to insert the brand’s point of view – and opportunity – within it.
  • How do we make the idea real? This is about going beyond channels and starting with audiences to ensure news value, accuracy, repetition, trust and advocacy. Positioning used to describe how your brand related to competitors in your category; now, it’s about describing how your brand relates to society at large.
  • How do we make the idea count? Ultimately, any campaign must ladder back to a business objective. Ask yourself: what are you putting out into the real world that is tangible and demonstrable? Use data validation, audience journey mapping and asset/tool production to create that real impact.

The Institute of Communication Agencies’ Report on Marketing is where leading Canadian agencies showcase their insights, cutting-edge research and client successes. The Report on Marketing provides a valuable source of thought leadership for Canadian marketers to draw inspiration from. Find more articles like this at the Report on Marketing.

Marketing Insights

See all Ideas & Insights