Back in the 1970s, John Fairbanks taught advertising at Hounslow.

It was one of the UK’s first advertising courses.

John was very smart, he did exactly the right thing.

He got me, and other advertising professionals, to set briefs for his students

And then, next week, crit the work they’d done.

This is the best way for advertising students to learn.

But what John did next was genius.

In order to justify his budget, John needed to demonstrate the course was successful.

Without us even noticing it, John would ask us which we thought was the best campaign that week.

And we’d point to one and that would be that.

But John would then make the person who did that campaign the recipient of an award named after the person who picked it.

So, when it came time for the college authorities to review John’s course, he could point to all the awards his students had won.

One student had won the ‘Tim Delaney’ award.

Another student had won the ‘Dave Trott’ award.

Another student had won the ‘Ron Collins’ award.

And so on.

John could show the authorities that, each year, his students won at least half a dozen awards from top professionals.

The authorities were impressed.

They didn’t know those weren’t real award schemes and no one but John’s students could have entered anyway.

But all that really didn’t really matter.

They did the job.

The college authorities were impressed, and John’s course retained its funding.

I wonder if you can see any parallels with advertising awards.

An agency needs clients to think they’re really good.

How can they tell?

Awards, that’s it, that’s what we need.

We need to win some awards.

CEO to ECD: “I want you to enter everything into every award scheme everywhere and win some awards, it doesn’t matter what they are:

The Cannes Lions.

The Rio de Janerio Rhinos.

The Adelaide Armadillos.

The Bombay Bumbelbees.

Just win something, anything, so we can hype ourselves.”

So that’s the brief for all agency work: win awards.

In the old days, you won awards by doing better, more effective work.

But that’s dinosaur thinking.

Now, you win awards by finding out what juries vote for and doing that.

But the story about John Fairbanks opens up a new possibility.

We don’t have to enter other people’s award schemes.

We can make up our own.

In fact, look at this.

While I’m sitting here I’ve just heard I’ve won the “I Fancy a Cuppa” award.

And look, later on I’m up for the prestigious “Popping Down The Pub” award.

After that, I’m going to enter the “What’s On The Telly” award.

And you know what?

I’ve got a sneaking feeling I’ll win.

It’s been a fabulous morning for me with three awards flooding in.

And look at this.

I’ve just won the “Loads Of Awards” award.

And my goodness, I’ve even won the “Have Another Award” award.

That’s five awards in one day.

No one else can say that.

I must be better than everyone else, and that proves it.

Are you a client?

Do you fancy an award?

Come and see our agency.

We’re the only agency that can actually guarantee you an award.

In fact you can have even have an award just for coming to see us.

You can choose from several.

There’s the “Here’s Your Award” award.

Or the “Ooh Ennit A Luvverly Award” award.

Or the much sought after “Quick Think Up An Award” award.


If awards are so important, let’s have more of ‘em.