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Enough awards already?

Industry comment

I attended last night’s inaugural Brand Event Awards – produced as a collaboration between Event and Marketing magazines, both Haymarket publications.

While I can understand the appeal of the concept, the event didn’t quite live up to expectations.  This was possibly because it was poorly attended  - by an audience of no more than 200.  This may be a sign of the economic times, or simply because this is the Brand Event Awards’ first outing.  Or possibly because they coincided with a competing ceremony – the UK Event Awards, held on the same night by publishers Carnyx.

And these two were the latest in a flood of award ceremonies.  In addition to these, over the last six weeks we have seen the Event Awards (Haymarket), the Eventia Awards (independent), the CIT Awards (Haymarket), the Field Marketing  and Brand Experience Awards (Frank Publishing) and the MIMA Awards (CAT Publications). Still to come over the next few weeks are the IVCA’s Livecom Awards.

Haymarket Publishing alone were responsible for three of the above events – all targeting the live events and experiential marketing sector.

Some people may not see much in common between, say, the MIMA and the Field Marketing and Brand Experience Awards, but many agencies are progressively broadening their sphere of activity to embrace B2C as well as B2B business, and could quite easily consider entering any or all of the above.

The mild inconvenience of having to get togged-up for so many awards events on a weekly basis, masks two much more disturbing commercial implications.  Firstly, all of them rely heavily on sponsorship from industry suppliers.  These companies’ marketing budgets are already stretched paper thin and may well be reduced for 2012 in the light of the dire economic forecast.   The collective pot just isn’t deep enough to go round.

Secondly, for those companies that believe in the excellent third-party endorsement that award wins provide, it is becoming increasingly difficult to know which to enter and where to draw the line.  The entry periods for all these awards are between May and July – which puts agencies and their clients under immense pressure to prepare multiple submissions during a busy period.  Our clients are beginning to lose respect and patience at being asked to approve the avalanche of entries landing in their inboxes.

I realise that as a seasoned award entrant on behalf of experiential agency TRO, and as Chairman of Eventia,  I could be criticised for having one or more vested interests here, but this boils down to a matter of basic economics and common sense.  We have reached the stage where the kudos surrounding awards programmes is becoming diluted by an over-crowded market place.

Perhaps it’s time for the industry to say Less is More, and to consider a change of tack  - either in the number or the timing of these programmes. 

Rob Allen
Executive Chairman, TRO Group
Chairman, Eventia


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