One Award That Really Matters

Hint: It Doesn’t Come With a Party

Wherever you turn, agencies are talking about or getting ready for creative awards season.

It seems there’s one awards ceremony after another all over the world until about October.

Agencies pay vast, well-documented amounts to enter their work for these awards.

Some agency CEOs have gone on record to declare that advertising awards are the way they measure how well they’re doing.

Different agencies take different awards more or less seriously.

At our agency, winning awards is important.

But some awards are more important than others.

There’s one in particular that I think it’s fair to say I’m personally obsessed with.

Preparing for it is a continuous affair.

We give the work our all.

The award is called The Rising Sales Graph.

It’s an idiosyncratic little thing — there’s no dinner, no party, no front page headlines, no calls from avid headhunters — but I remain a dedicated supporter.

The rising sales graph means a healthy brand, higher employment, a sounder economy, even — gulp! — happy clients.

I know these are peripheral issues in the glitzy whirl of Cannes (I won a Grand Prix there once and I felt like a princess for a day!) and Pencils and Penguins and Poodles or whatever.

I guess I’m just an old-fashioned country boy at heart.

This article originally appeared here in Advertising Age, May 18, 2009.

Forget Domino’s; YouTube Video Is Crime Against Working People

Viewpoint: Tampering With Food Harms Much More Than Brand Reputation

I just watched the Domino’s cheese-in-nose video shot and uploaded to YouTube by a couple of Domino’s employees, and I have to say it made my blood run cold. It’s one of the most stunning examples of internet/YouTube abuse I’ve ever seen.

And the brand custodian part of me didn’t even become engaged. Long before that, the human being in me became enraged.

Urban myths about employees in food outlets tampering with food abound. I was going to recount some of them, but I don’t think it’s fair, for the same reason you bring up your toddlers based on the “Once seen, never unseen” principle: Even the most apocryphal allusion to food tampering can powerfully remain in the psyche forever, to the potential harm of an innocent vendor.

But the problem is bigger than that. Food tampering has a psychic resonance because it sits in the middle of a fundamental human necessity and right: that of getting the nutrition we require to subsist. Few things in history have inspired so much charitable outpouring as feeding the hungry or ridding the world of disease. Food tampering pollutes both of those. It inspires a truly visceral reflex and contributes to a view of the world as an untrustworthy, un-nourishing place.

Personally I don’t really do fast food. Lucky me. I am fortunate to have the time and resources not to have to. But the real sin of the repulsive duo in the Domino’s video is that many, many people in this particularly trying economic time have absolutely no choice but to rely regularly on fast food, from the single mom with no time to the working stiff on a short break and an even shorter budget. Every one of them who sees this excruciating video, Domino’s customer or not, will gag and wonder just a tiny bit about the trustworthiness of a meal tomorrow. It is in my view nothing less than a crime against working people.

This article originally appeared here in Advertising Age, April 14, 2009.