A pinch of noms

20th September 2023
Insight & events

A wide range of award nominations easily outranks a trophy, says Andrew Baird

It’s about twenty years ago – might be more – and I’m sitting at a table in the Great Room at the Grosvenor House. On my left is the HR Director of a major entertainment retailer, and on my right is the HR Manager of a noted Oxford Street department store. They’re both my clients, and they’ve both been nominated for the same recruitment advertising award. Whatever happens, the evening won’t be ending well.

When crunch time comes, the department store wins the gong. The HR Director is furious and walks out, accusing me of investing too much time with ‘other clients’. My agency doesn’t get fired, but we have to work pretty hard to resurrect the relationship. Who’d have thought getting a client nominated would be such a bummer?

Peeved vs. Achieved

Thankfully, nomination-related crises like this are pretty rare. Whilst all nominees are understandably peeved not to take home the big prize, most recognise they’ve done well to get that far. They also realise that the fact they don’t have (say) an early talent department of 75 professionals and an attraction budget in the low millions can make a difference in the final count.

Now, I’m going to say something bullish about the nominations vs wins thing. I’d far, far rather my agency had a wide range of nominations – across a variety of clients, categories and markets – than a single award win.

A range of nominations is much more impressive than the odd glimpse of silverware. Nominations at scale suggest the agency is a well-resourced machine that cares about, and can deliver, quality across the board. Not just in terms of creative, of course, but in the other areas to which awards are increasingly given – media, digital, consulting, research.

A slew of nominations also suggests that talent in the agency isn’t restricted to one creative director who’s surrounded themselves with a team of less talented grifters whose job it is to churn out the run-of-the-mill.

Of course, if all the nominations are for the same project, none of the above applies. If an agency earns six noms for the same video, for example, we can be pretty sure that it’s an excellent piece of work. But it’s debatable whether that level of quality can be replicated when the gifted creator goes on holiday or wakes up with a hangover.

And it’s much better if the noms are for a range of clients in a variety of markets. This shows the agency has the creative chops to succeed with different propositions and different brands. Rather than focusing all its talent on one or two clients that have an emotional proposition (always likely to turn judges’ heads) or a brand for which the consumer agency has already done the heavy lifting.

Declaration of interest – finally

Guess what? I work for Blackbridge Communications, the London agency which is currently basking in the glow of more Recruitment Marketing Award nominations than anyone else this year. That’s in no small part thanks to our new Executive Creative Director, Al Wotton, and his growing team of writers, artists and filmmakers.

So yes, to misquote Mandy Rice-Davies, I would say the above, wouldn’t I. But I genuinely think it’s true. Until, of course, it’s the morning after the awards and I find myself writing an alternative article called No Such Thing as Second Place.


20th September 2023

Andrew is Director of Consulting at Blackbridge Communications