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Are Awards Outdated?

Hal Bienstock  Follow

rarhofLast week, I attended the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony at Brooklyn's Barclays Center. The 5+ hour ceremony had some great moments (Joan Jett, Kim Gordon, St. Vincent & Lorde fronting Nirvana; a powerhouse performance from Bruce Springsteen; and a rare appearance by Cat Stevens), as well as some not-so-great moments (35 minutes of speeches from all 10 members of the E Street Band, which followed a 15-minute speech by Bruce himself).

Putting aside the debate over whether something as subjective as music should have a Hall of Fame, the event got me wondering about the future of awards themselves. Many clients - and many agencies - spend a lot of time going after them, yet often they're as much a function of relationships and money as merit. Harvey Weinstein often gets accused of buying Oscars through advertising and marketing, but any PR person knows that industry awards are bought and sold all the time, and not just in Hollywood.

So, why do people buy into it? Perhaps it's the value of repetition. Maybe you never got around to seeing "12 Years a Slave" or checking out Bruce Springsteen in concert and now you're reminded to do it by a few days of blanket news coverage. Or maybe you don't know what kind of enterprise software to get, so you figure you may as well start your research with an award winner. But in the end, before you make an investment of time and money in any of those things, you'll probably go online and try to learn more.

My guess is that while social media has made award shows more popular - they're among the few programs people have to watch live in order to participate in the discussion–social media will also increasingly diminish their importance.

Why pick a movie, restaurant or software provider based on the recommendation of a few industry insiders who are friends with the key players when you can tap into the wisdom of the crowd? Perhaps the money companies are pouring into award campaigns is better spent on engaging with the larger community that really has the final say on your reputation and brand value. Unless you're obsessed with getting a gold statuette for your mantle, endorsements from your customers are more important than any award. End of Story

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