Let’s Put The Media Back Into Media Awards

Media Cloud

In 2010, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Cannes Advertising Festival. To this day I regard my participation in this event as one of the most enriching experiences of my media career. All the best ideas from research to execution converge on the Palais des Festivals over the course of one week.

I was particularly interested in the Media Lions. What were the best media ideas from around the world? How high was the bar going to be set? Who were my biggest competitors? Turns out that the answers to my questions were:  Lots and very, very good, extremely high and… Saatchi & Saatchi???

Have a look at these fantastic communications concepts.



The videos you’ve just seen are two world class ideas, brilliantly executed. Only problem is, the media agency had very little to do with them. That particular year, “Teletransporter” won numerous Cannes Lions… in Media, Outdoor, Digital and Promo. Clearly a deserving entry, but a creative agency innovative media idea…

I think the people who are running media award shows need to take a long hard look at what they are doing, keeping in mind one of the first principles of marketing doctrine – namely product differentiation. Media awards should recognize only media-based ideas.

I did not do a formal count but it seemed to me that more than half of that year’s Media Lions were given to creative agencies whose great ideas won numerous awards in their respective creative awards shows, and then went on to win relatively “easy” Media Lions at Cannes.

This same tendency is beginning to emerge at our own Media Innovation Awards and it is a very unfortunate trend that can lead to negative consequences for our (media) industry.

While I do not wish to disparage our creative kin, they have more than ample opportunity to have their work recognized at probably a dozen significant creative shows.

We media agencies have precious few.

Especially today, as media has taken centre stage within the marketing theatre, media requires its own showcase, judged by professionals who understand and appreciate the challenges and the nuance of media innovation, focusing purely on the media craft, without the flourish of the creative idea.

Almost unavoidably, we are becoming our own worst enemies. The pressure to win at the increasingly popular MIAs is pushing media agencies to try to get away with as much as they can by entering work that blurs the boundary between media innovation and agency creativity.

But here is where we need to step in as an industry and insist on clearer judging criteria. We need judges who not only understand the difference between a “creative” idea and a “media” idea … but more importantly are willing to take a stand in the courtroom of their fellow judges.

After all, what good is a media award if the most prestigious trophies we have are sitting in the lobbies of advertising agencies?

We need to repatriate our awards shows and bring them back to the basics, like: media strategy, target insights, innovation and results. Sound like a good media plan?