One for the Fans

Image: Dina Regine

After the demise of The Yardbirds, Jimmy Page went on to quickly assemble his own group that in a few short years would become one of the best-selling artists of all time.

Led Zeppelin’s popularity however wasn’t shared by everyone. ‘Dull’, ‘monotonous’ and ‘redundant’ were just a few of the words music critics used to describe their efforts. Something that seems unthinkable today given their current standing in the music press. The band’s awards cabinet stayed pretty bare during the early years. But regardless of what the so-called experts thought, their music connected with millions. Led Zep didn’t need the critics’ praise to be successful, the fans took care of that.

In advertising, particularly the Creative department, awards rule. They can determine your salary, your title and your next job. But what about another factor – persuasiveness. Now I know we have effectiveness awards but I’m struggling to remember the last time I heard a Creative bragging about bagging a bronze IPA on LinkedIn, or an agency’s press release flaunting their new team’s achievements at WARC. We seem so focused on the awards we can win with the work, we sometimes forget about the role of the work in the first place.

Don’t get me wrong. I love awards. Creativity is still the most effective tool we have to stand out and connect with an audience. And scrolling through the latest Cannes winners reminds me why I got into the business in the first place. But sometimes we forget the true aim of an ad. Advertising isn’t an art, it’s a business. And it’s our job to help businesses around the world become bigger and better.

While I believe we should rightly continue to get the attention we deserve when we pick up awards, we should also get a hearty slap on the back – and all the trimmings that come with it – when the work we create actually works. Increasing sales, successfully launching products or saving lives.

That would get my vote.

Over the Hills and Far Away, Led Zeppelin, Madison Square Garden ’73.

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