This week a production company called Oink Radio announced the winner of its 14th annual Dead Radio Contest. It's going to a script written by a freelancer to promote the power of radio, which will now be produced for free by Oink. If it's like any of the spots from past winners, the client may have been right to kill the script.
The few that I've listened to, though funny, were either off brand or didn't succeed in communicating a relevant message that differentiated the client's business from its competition in any meaningful way.
Like any writer, I have a file folder full of scripts I've written that clients didn't buy for one reason or another. Many are scripts I still think would have helped move the needle for their brands. But I've never been a fan of these types of awards.
First of all, it's my responsibility to sell my best work to the client. That's what separates great agencies from good ones.
You have to know how to present your work in a way that makes it easy for your client to buy what you're recommending. If you find clients are killing a lot of your great ideas, then stop blaming them and get some help. There are a lot of good training programs that will help you become a better presenter. Here's my favorite.
Second, Dead Radio Awards, and others of this ilk, only reinforce the "us versus them" mentality that runs rampant inside the walls of most advertising agencies. Clients are not the enemy. Entering work in competitions like this says "you were too stupid to see the greatness of my idea." I can promise you, that attitude won't endear you to them.
And finally, the only reason competitions like this exist is for the ego gratification of the idea's creator. This is advertising. It's a business where we make money by selling things of value to clients. If you want to make stuff for yourself without pay, become an artist.