For the Win?

Back at the beginning of my career, my then creative director decided the best way to bring in new business to our nascent agency was to win design awards.

Not knowing any better – we all cheered and put our collective nose to the grindstone. Developing the concept, the interactions, the flow, all for a award-winning, self-promotion piece. I was responsible for programming the Director-based CD-ROM (yes, that’s how long ago it was). Once we all sufficiently tested the CD-ROM, it was duplicated and entered.

And, to all but our creative director’s surprise – the piece was included in the design annual (‘bronze’ or ‘notable mention’ or something like that). Yet – the phones didn’t start ringing and the desperately-needed new business didn’t materialize. I left about 6 months later. Then the creative director left. The shop itself folded by year’s end.

Remembering that project brings a stale and empty taste to my mouth. Like finding out a joke you’ve been retelling was offensive. It changed how I measure winning and the types of projects I take on.

To this day – it pains me to see so many professionals distracting themselves with contests rather than the hard work of making something meaningful that lasts.