What’s better than winning awards? Organizing award shows.

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According to Ad Age, an employee of the One Show inadvertently e-mailed a list of agencies that have entered the One Show’s 2009 advertising awards to several ad execs. The list gives a snapshot of how lucrative award shows can be – we are talking about the top notch awards that is.

In all, there were 9,795 entries for the ad awards, at a total cost to the agencies of $3,507,860. The average cost of an entry was $358. The database does not account for the interactive or design entries to the One Show, just the advertising entries. Last year the One Show had 26,000 entries from 60 countries. Based on the average price for an entry, the One Show received about $10 million in entry fees, though the organization said the figure was far lower.

Among the agencies, Almap BBDO, Brazil tops the list with 156 entries. The next highest? BBDO New York. In total, BBDO offices account for more than 750 of the entries, and the network spent a total of more than $250,000, according to the spreadsheet.

Not surprisingly, the awards vs. effective advertising debate has started. BBDO justified the participation. “Awards matter – they are how we measure the quality of our work against that of our competitors”, BBDO’s CEO said. Last year they were the most awarded network and the pressure to keep that title shows. The comments on the post offer both for and against views.

In my view, doing well at awards (that too the prestigious ones) is like oxygen for the agency. It attracts both business and talent. But the danger is when agencies see it as the be-all of their existence. If it breeds a culture of ‘awards at any cost’ – it leads to the usual scam stuff (that’s another debate), creative talent obsessing over an ad for awards rather than addressing a genuine business problem of the client. What say?

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