DDB Global CCO Has Had It With Your Awards Shows

By Patrick Coffee 

Today, DDB’s worldwide chief creative officer Amir Kassaei elaborated on a thesis with which many of this blog’s readers will certainly agree: awards shows are totally meaningless. In fact, they’re bad for the ad industry, which should abandon them altogether…or at least stop giving a shit.

His op-ed on Campaign is titled “The End of False Recognitions,” and his aim in writing it was to foment a bit of the old disruption.

In the piece itself, Kassei writes that DDB offices around the world will be sending less work to Cannes and related events this year than in the past. He does take a moment to mention that DDB has “won more Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity than any other network on the planet,” but that’s not what really matters.

The idea is that DDB’s semi-boycott of all awards will lead others in the industry to discuss over coffee/liquor and “recalibrate some of the most important values” in advertising.

It’s kind of like an extended AgencySpy comment with fewer curse words and better spelling. His key point:

“Too many of us in the industry have bought into the idea that winning awards is proof of creative effectiveness, so much so that we’re willing to sacrifice our integrity to get them. And in turn that has lessened the integrity of the awards themselves.”

So the answer is to keep your heads down, focus on the work, and not bother submitting anything to Cannes? Sort of.

He gets a bit harsher:

“If we are coming up with social ideas that pretend to solve the world’s biggest problems or help disenfranchised people, but, in fact, are only being done to win an award, we are cynical and perhaps even criminal.”

We would probably go with “disingenuous.” His conclusion, of course, is that agencies should focus on serving their clients rather than promoting themselves.

If DDB does somehow happen to win some of those awards, though, it will be because of the work rather than the politics because “winning awards only means that you are good at winning awards”–and DDB doesn’t really need the plaudits anyway, because it has a long history.

As admirable as this sentiment may be, we do wonder whether Kassei would have written the piece if DDB had been the big winner at Cannes last year.

Will other agencies join in his very public semi-protest (note that he didn’t claim DDB will stop submitting work altogether)?

That’s about as likely as you or your best friend winning Powerball.