What Should An Award Stand For Answered!

A week or so ago, I had written a post titled What Should An Award Stand For?  Quite a few fellow bloggers and friends commented on the post agreeing with me that awards had become a business in themselves.

One particular response, though, was akin to a post on the subject. When I read the response by Anand Halve (Andy as he is more popularly called), I not only laughed all the way but thought, here is What Should An Award Stand For Answered! 

So I wrote to Andy and got his permission to publish his response as a guest post. Here it is. But before you proceed, allow me to introduce Anand Halve. In the industry since 1977, Anand is a brand strategist and co-founder of chlorophyll, a brand management consultancy and agency. His left-brain is that of a management professional, while his right-brain embraces shayari (Urdu poetry).

Anand Halve answers What Should An Award Stand For?

Anand Halve, Co-Founder Chlorophyll
Anand Halve, Co-Founder chlorophyll

“My friend, you have plumbed the depths of the phenomenon of awards, and examined it under the scalpel of a powerful microscope, if one may cheerfully and recklessly mix metaphors and scientific instruments. And thus, you have exposed the flaws and limitations of these things. Often known as ‘metals’ a term hitherto applied to a class of elements with certain well-defined physical and chemical properties.

What you have missed, though, I think, is the helicopter view. Allow me to the take you to about 15,000 feet above mean sea level, and show you what I see.

In the universe of awards, there was no Big Bang that created them as an act of nature, with no creator. Awards are neither formed ‘swayambhu’* nor do they emerge as an immaculate conception – they are created by an organisation. And to understand why they exist, you have to look at why these worthy bodies create them in the first place.

The Ad Club Bombay was a loss-making proposition all year and the only profit they made was from the Ad Club Awards (now merged with the AAAI and called the Abbys). FILMFARE magazine made losses covered only by the annual sponsored (i.e. funded) jamboree of distributing many figurines of the ‘Black Lady’. Clio Awards existed as nothing but a mechanism that had the collection of entry fees as their revenue, and the expenses of an awards function as their major cost, and turned a profit.

And of course apart from participation fees, there are the host of sponsors, co-sponsors and other parties who also chip in with their money.

So, the first thing to remember is that awards are created to meet a simple goal: make money. (But you have to make sure EVERYONE involved feels they are ‘winners.’ As all hosts repeatedly inform the entire 30-member shipment of lissom finalists in beauty pageants. Read on.)

Benefits to the eco-system
Now, of course, the entire ‘eco-system‘ involved in the effort must benefit, or the body that created the awards will be ploughing a lonely furrow indeed. So first off, the sponsor must benefit. Pond’s sponsors the Miss India pageant to reiterate the claim to beautification. Manikchand once sponsored the FILMFARE awards, no doubt hoping the glitter would help it to move out of the shadow of zarda and pan masala.

Other parties too benefit. The entire tourism industry prospers in and around the locale of the awards event. Do you think the International Festival of Creativity would be as successful if it was held in Bosnia instead of the South of France? And how glamorous would the Abbys be if they moved from Goa to Guntur?

IIFA was created by Wizcraft, and has been supported by the Tourism organisations of Malaysia, Singapore, Macau, and so on.

The TV channels who telecast the events pay the organisers, and make money by selling ad spots on the telecast.

All in all, a nice win-win for everyone concerned.

Benefits for award winners
Let us move on from the organisers and the eco-system partners to the actual award winners.

In the entertainment industry, their fees may go up by a couple of crores per project, and help them land new and more prestigious gigs. In advertising, it leads to salary increases, promotions, international assignments, better office cabins, and of course offers from other agencies. And it helps the ad agency win new business.

In the auto business it helps move more cars and two-wheelers out of showrooms.

(In journalism, awards are almost an invitation to the winners to become even more obnoxious than before, especially on TV.)

So winners really ARE winners.

Benefits for award non-winners
But the organisers know there are more punters in the non-winner category than those in the previous one so you have to give them something too. In the ad industry, it is sound bites on Storyboard and pictures to post on Facebook and of course free booze.

In Goa, many delegates to the Abbys never see the inside of the event auditoria! In Mumbai you can get drunk on ‘gatari’ amavasya for a couple of hundred bucks, but mon ami, it is soooo much better to get smashed at the Gutter Bar at Cannes, n’est-ce pas?

That’s why you need to have the event in Cannes not Kosovo, Goa not Gadchiroli.

It ain’t an award, it’s a currency
So finally, we must recognise that awards are not decorations to place on the mantelpiece nor even genuine recognition of performance / excellence (if they were, you’d never have had scam ads, nor would there be asinine categories such as ‘Special Jury Awards’ at film award functions, often given to someone who didn’t win in the regular categories, but hey, he performed at the show).

What they are, is a currency. A currency like Bitcoin. Created, not by Central Banks, but by entrepreneurs. And like any currency, specific awards have value only as long as they remain ‘liquid’ i.e. tradable. Clios lost their tradability lustre, and turned into a non-metal. If winning an award at the Creativity Awards of North Karnataka is not going to help someone get a salary increase or promotion or an agency win new business, do you think anyone will send in entries?

As in, if you want to find out which currency has liquidity, just call up and ask a Forex dealer if there is greater demand for US dollars and Pounds sterling or for Angolan Kwanza and Eritrean Nafka. In like manner, just ask an ad guy which award got him a better offer.”

So, there you go. An Award winning response if ever there was one:)


Featured Cover Image Credit: Victoria Crowned Pigeon by Steve Wilson (Flickr.com CC By 2.0)

swayambhu means self-manifested or that which is created by its own accord (Wikipedia).

*‘gatari’ amavasyaAmavasya in India means no-moon day. In the month of Ashada (as per the Maharashtrian calendar), Amavasya is observed as Gatari Amavasya. Gatari is a celebration of joy and festivity. Since Gatari Amavasya heralds the month of Shravan when many people abstain from alcohol and non-vegetarian food for 40 days, many people indulge themselves with food and drink to excess on Gatari Amavasya. 

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