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Are Awards Worth It?


The creative awards season may be over, but that only means it’s time to start thinking about next year! With so many different options available, it’s hard to know where to start. We caught up with the Creative Directors from three top agencies to find out how they prepare for awards, which projects they enter, if they budget for them and, most importantly, if they are really worth it. 

Thanks to Steve Long at Gravity London, Dan Varns at Deliciously Creative and Michael Dowell at MSL Group for their expert advice.

What is the main reason you enter awards?

Steve: We would enter in order to attract new business leads.

Michael: Personally, I think awards are great for peer recognition and to celebrate the power of good creativity.

Dan: I find they are effective at keeping my team motivated, creating great work that they want to show off.

Has winning an award/s had a positive impact on your business?

Michael: Yes! I recall in 2015 we won an award for best digital agency. It was a really proud moment for me as it was industry recognition for all those late nights, presentations and the drive we have to create great digital experiences. From that we knew we’d upped our game.

Steve: We’ve actually had new business come off the back of winning awards.

Do you publicise the fact you have won an award? If yes, how?

Dan: Yes, we post on our social media channels, on our internal blog and in our email communications.

Michael: Actually, we rarely publicise our wins. Maybe it’s something we should do more. We tend not to beat our chests too much and hope that people see the good work we do and find us organically.

How much time do you spend preparing for / entering awards?

Michael: We have a set process we go through where key project participants get together to write/paginate the entry and then we either create an award film or a simple entry. Put it in front of as many people as you can that don’t know anything about the project, you can become so close to it that it will make sense to you but it may not to anyone else. Also I tend to bullet point five key things that the entry should show then go back to that after we’ve created it to see if it achieves what I set out for it to.

Do you set aside a budget for awards?

Michael: Yes, we have a budget allocation each year.

Steve: Not really, we just decide which are relevant and worth entering based on the strength of the years' work.

How do you decide whether a project is award worthy?

Dan: I’d look back through previous entrants to determine the style and quality of the winners. The cost for entry can also be a factor and whether the categories are appropriate for the project.

Michael: We’ll only ever enter a piece of work we’re truly proud of, never just for the sake of it.

Which awards do you think are the most prestigious?

Steve: The B2B Marketing Awards and The Drum Brave Awards are the best for B2B companies. But the D&AD Awards are still the one every creative wants to win.

Dan: I agree, I would say the D&AD Awards are the most prestigious for creative and design. Also The Webby Awards and The Lovies.

What is your top tip for those entering work into an award?

Michael: Keep it simple, keep it emotive, tell a story, keep it short. If you have to spell it out in words, you’ve failed.

Steve: Only enter what you think you can win. Imagine you are the judge, what would you score your work? Don't let your heart rule your head. Don't enter work just to show a client you think the work is good enough to enter.

Dan: Believe in your work. If you are proud of a particular project, your passion will come across. You never know, you could be the next winner!

All three Creative Directors agreed that entering awards can be really beneficial, whether you win or not. Winning an award can not only bring your agency new business but also recognition for all the hard work your team has put in. And even if you don’t win, having awards as part of your business strategy can encourage your team to continually create great, entry-worthy work. It can keep everyone motivated and their standards high.

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