A month and a half ago, Well Done won three “ADDY” awards at the 2016 Indianapolis American Advertising Awards. I was asked to write about it, but I put it off until now because I feel conflicted about advertising awards. I enjoy winning them, but I’m kind of embarrassed about enjoying it.
This is due partly to the (well-intentioned) corniness of the ADDY Awards ceremony itself, which attempts to elevate advertising to the realm of high art. If you’ve never been, imagine a long, formal ceremony that follows the format of the Oscars. People dress up, they eat hors d’oeuvres, the drink cocktails, and then they file into a big, fancy room where the winners are announced over a PA system while the award-winning work—print ads, promotional brochures, direct mail, regional TV commercials—is displayed on a big screen behind the stage. Gold Award winners go onstage to accept a 10-pound trophy. Some people give speeches. At least one person at this year’s ceremony made a presidential endorsement.
What I’m saying is, the ADDY Awards take the whole enterprise of advertising a little more seriously than a reasonable person might consider appropriate. And although most of us agency folks recognize this, it doesn’t stop us from giving ourselves over to the absurdity of it all, if only for one night, to bask in the warm glow of mutual adoration. Because, hey, it feels good to be recognized for your work. But you also kind of have to take the whole thing with a grain of salt—and not just because the American Advertising Awards are over the top in a harmlessly silly kind of way. Rather, because they celebrate “creative excellence,” which isn’t always equivalent to good or successful advertising.
Ad man David Ogilvy famously hated the word “creative.” He would have felt similarly about the ADDYs, which are essentially a beauty pageant for creative work done under the banner of advertising. It’s a venue where advertising “creatives”—the graphic designers, copywriters, directors, and others—get to enjoy some recognition for their creative ingenuity.
And that’s fine! There’s a bunch of wildly talented creatives working in advertising in Indianapolis (this year’s Winners Book is full of excellent examples of their work), and it’s an honor to be included among them. But as a creative who manages other creatives, I think it’s important to keep in mind Ogilvy’s famous adage—“If it doesn’t sell, it’s not creative”—when considering this stuff.
Anyway, without further ado, let’s segue awkwardly into the part of the blog post where we show off our award-winning creative work, shall we?
It starts with this-here website you’re reading right now, which won a gold ADDY for online/interactive self-promotion. We’re especially honored to win this one, because this website is, as much as anything we’ve ever produced, an unfiltered expression of our creative spirit.
We’re plenty proud of the other awards we won, too, both for work we did for Central Indiana Community Foundation. We netted a gold ADDY for event materials we created for CICF’s 2015 IN|Vision event, pictured below:
And we won a silver award for writing and designing a “case statement” for CICF. Credit for these awards also belongs to CICF, particularly Director of Communications Mike Knight, who pushed us to do good work, and recognized it when he saw it.
Do these awards mean we’re good advertisers? No. They mean we’re capable of great creative work. And that is certainly one aspect—an important one, usually—of great advertising.
Speaking of which: The below video of David Ogilvy addressing a group of direct response advertisers, antiquated though it is, conveys the selling-vs-creative argument in a way only the old master could. Enjoy.