Think you’re good? Awards can help you prove it

Now this, I’m nervous about. Stepping into the minefield of organising a fair and popular awards competition for the Middle East’s advertising industry is something that even UN secretary-general Kofi Annan could be forgiven for feeling slightly anxious about. This is an industry that is rightly cynical about the process of how plaudits are awarded here. There have been well known recent examples where events did not have the credibility one would have wished.

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By  Tim Burrowes Published  October 16, 2005

|~||~||~|Now this, I’m nervous about. Stepping into the minefield of organising a fair and popular awards competition for the Middle East’s advertising industry is something that even UN secretary-general Kofi Annan could be forgiven for feeling slightly anxious about. This is an industry that is rightly cynical about the process of how plaudits are awarded here. There have been well known recent examples where events did not have the credibility one would have wished. Sadly, Kofi was a bit too busy to take on the chairmanship, but I can offer you the next best thing. As we’ve already announced, the awards will be chaired by Jan Zijderveld, the boss of Unilever Middle East and chairman of the GCC Association of Advertisers. No one can doubt that he will oversee an entirely fair process. Today we unveil the categories and with your print edition of Campaign, you’ll find an entry form. We’ve consulted the industry at every step in this process. I’m aware that it may seem slightly counter intuitive to have a non-creative as chairman of an awards event that primarily champions creativity. But while the point will always be to recognise the best and most creative work the industry has to offer, this strong client involvement will emphasise the fact that the most successful work has to actually help shift product and build brands. And we will be looking for a balance on the jury that reflects the mixture of disciplines we are seeking to award — creatives will be the biggest single group, because the greatest number of categories recognise this discipline. But marketers, PRs and those in media agencies, will also join the panel to help judge their peers’ work. As well as a large number of independent jurors, we’ll also be seeking those with affiliation to all the main groupings. And, importantly, there will also be international representation among our jurors too. So how to ensure fair play? Here comes the science bit — feel free to skip the next paragraph if you feel that life is too short. The shortlisting stage will be carried out by Campaign, in consultation with our chairman. Then after an open discussion, our jurors will secretly award written scores based on a set of criteria. Those who have an allegiance to a particular agency will not be allowed to vote on its entries. Much like certain Olympic events, the highest and lowest score will be discarded. The scores will thenbe added up and divided by the number of jurorstaking part in that vote. This will determine the winners. Until the night, not even the jurors will know who they are. Want me to run that one by you again? Thought not. Sorry to bore you there, but I wanted you to know that this is a system where the most forceful personality in the room does not automatically get their winner, and that if an individual tries to settle a score by giving an entry a very low mark, it will be discounted. We want these awards to be meaningful for the whole region — to be hard to win, and all the more credible because of it. And let’s remember that awards are not just about egos. Winning awards helps reassure nervous clients that taking a risk is worth it if it turbo charges the brand. And comparing yourself to others is what drives up quality. At present we seem to be a little behind the international pace. Anything we can do to regain ground will be most welcome. The awards night itself will also be a big one — a chance for the whole industry to come together under one roof. Do get 31 January in your diary now. And now it’s over to you. We can only celebrate the region’s best if everybody enters. So please do get cracking. The closing date of 7 December may seem like a long time away, but the next 52 days are going to go quickly. Think you’re good? It’s time to prove it.||**||

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