Letter from NY: Matthew Bull’s house rules for entering award shows
by Matthew Bull (@StixBull) When it comes to entering awards with our work, we have a simple set of house rules we like to remind ourselves about. Here, for the first time ever, we publish them.
- Entering an idea that hasn’t been approved by a client is just plain stupid.
- Entering an idea that hasn’t been bought by a client, even a non-paying one, does a disservice to our business and to that idea itself. It’s also cheating. No-one likes a cheater, no matter how brilliant they are (see Lance Armstrong). It’s also stupid.
- The second hardest part of having a great idea is having someone buy it. Because if it’s great, it must be original, covering unchartered territory. In other words, risky. This is part of our business and requires enormous amounts of skill and perseverance. Great advertising agencies aren’t just good at thinking; they’re good at doing. If you don’t embrace and appreciate that, you’re stupid.
- Not appreciating that your actions as a company can either build or undermine the entire industry’s relationship with clients — and the trust they have with us — is stupid.
- The time to behave like children is at the award shows. Not when deciding what to enter. Behaving any other way is stupid.
- As the agency leaders, not taking responsibility for the entries is like not taking responsibility for your audited finances. It’s stupid.
The moral of the story? Don’t be stupid when you’re trying to show people how clever you are.
Now for an idea
A new category for award shows that will help produce some of the brilliant ideas the industry has but which can’t be financed. This should apply only to raising money and awareness for non-profit organisations.
The ‘Kickstarter’ award (new name obviously needed): Ideas may be entered, whether they have run or not. Judges recommend the top three pieces of brilliance for the ‘Kickstarter’ award. Via the Loeries website, people may contribute amounts of any significance to the award they believe is the most meaningful. The idea that raises the most wins and sweeps the whole pot (this needs to be made clear to people donating). Loeries finds a sponsor of some sort to match the amount raised on the idea.
This way, the industry does good and produces great. Which is clever.
Matthew Bull (@StixBull) is a partner at The Bull-White House in New York. Before that, he served as chief creative officer/chairman of Lowe & Partners/Lowe Bull and chief creative officer at Lowe Worldwide. Matthew contributes the regular “Letter from New York” column to MarkLives.
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