PPA Customer Direct awards: what a shame!

If the Periodical Publishers Association awarded prizes for fiction, Julian Barnes wouldn’t have won.

Sounds amazingly unfair, but it’s true. The PPA award would not have gone to the author but to Jonathan Cape, the company publishing the book.

PPA Customer Direct Awards

Each year, the PPA holds the Customer Direct Awards for the best direct marketing promotions of the year. The PPA awards are a great and exciting event in the media calendar, held at the Brewery in Chiswell Street, London, in November.

But nowhere on the PPA award entry is the name of the creator of the work requested.

So who wins? No-one. It’s the company that wins. The 2010 winner of the PPA Best Subscriptions Promotion on a Small Budget for example, went to ‘IPC Media’.

Copywriting in publishing, it seems, is the only creative area where the author is unknown.

Even graffiti artists sign their names.

A constructive solution to the PPA’s problem
As we always like to offer a constructive solution to marketing problems, here is the answer to today’s conundrum:

Under the PPA’s ‘Questions’ for entries, insert:

“Name the person or persons who created the campaign or promotion.”

Here is the link to this year’s event so you can judge for yourself. What a shame:

PPA Customer direct awards 2011

And here, for those who have got this far, is the counter argument, from Helen Rekhi, Time Magazine:

Peter, You raise an interesting point about the PPA but I am not sure that I agree.
To my mind, the PPA Customer Direct Awards are there to recognise and encourage the talent of young marketeers and the part that they play in the creation of a really good campaign. Copywriters and designers are very important, but they need a good brief to work with, plus they do not decide the offer, pricing, plan the media or list selections, identify the optimal timing for drop, or control the overall cost. In all these areas the Marketing Managers play a vital role and that is what I believe the PPA is recognising here.
Obviously I can’t speak for other publishers but the copywriter and designer behind our campaigns do get our recognition. They will be there with us at the awards ceremony, they get a great networking opportunity at the event and are quite welcome to use the award in their publicity to gain more business, but I do not believe their names should go on the entry
Helen Rekhi, Head of Subscriptions Marketing, TIME Magazine

What about other advertising awards?
So what do you think? Should the person who writes the promotion be recognised?

Lets be clear: I am writing about sales and marketing copy. The kind of copy that sells things.

The copywriting for items such as loose inserts, unless it is ground-breaking, isn’t really writing. It’s more about coupon design. We are talking about real, more meaty subscription promotions for new business, upgrading and converting, home pages etc.

I wonder what the people at the D&AD Advertising Awards would say about this? Their awards are the biggest in the UK, so are an excellent comparison. In their list of credits, D&AD put the designer first and copywriter second. Then all the other agency people involved follow:

D&AD Advertising Awards

Sounds about right to me. Tell the world. Credit where credit is due.

I am wary of secrets. They usually exist to hide something not very nice …

Peter Hobday
Subscriptions Strategy Ltd

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