There’s been a lot of talk lately about our industry awards, particularly in relation to the embellishment of entries. So it got me thinking: Do people really care about accolades?

I know I’m not the only one who is swayed in my choice of wine based on the number of medals it wears. And the Peugeot 3008 went to the top of my car shopping list when I found out it won European Car of the Year (they have all kinds of road conditions over there, so it must be good, right?).

I spoke to The IMPACT Agency’s consulting behavioural economics expert, Kris White, about whether awards change the way humans feel and behave towards the recipient, and he raised a couple of interesting points:

  • Awards will have an impact whether you believe them or not. Subconsciously, the awarded will be associated with significance and success. Consciously, you may rationalise and be cynical, but subconsciously the link is made.
  • Authority bias tells us that we have a natural deference to those seen as having some kind of authority. While it might make sense that an expert international wine maker’s award has more credibility than the corporate or local agricultural fair, they may have the same impact. It is the award itself that is the message.

However, it’s not all a bed of roses.

  • Becoming an award winner can also indicate that you are part of the establishment and perhaps no longer the cool kids on the block – much like when your favourite Triple J band starts being played on Kyle and Jackie O, they lose some of their cool factor.
  • Awards work by being limited in their availability – not everyone can win an award. However, if that scarcity is removed, they aren’t as desirable or sought-after. This is particularly true in the advertising and marketing industries where there are sooooo many awards that they are starting to lose their shine.

So, go-ahead and enter awards. Subconsciously people will applaud you, but pace yourself and be strategic about which ones you enter.

Ask yourself why are you entering and what are you hoping to achieve from a win. Will it enhance or damage the reputation of the agency?

Make sure you enter awards that are associated with a reputable organisation and there aren’t too many categories. And finally, make sure your entries are truthful. Trust in your agency can erode as quickly as the compere says ‘And the winner is…’

Good luck!