Alex Wadelton: Why award shows should donate the entry fees from charity campaigns

Screen Shot 2018-06-28 at 7.36.18 am.jpgBy Alex Wadelton, creative director, writer and ideas guy

There are so many unbelievably clever people working in advertising who create incredible campaigns for a wide range of charities.

But one thing that has always slightly irked me, is the amount of money that awards shows make from entry fees for all of that charity work.

It seems like a very opportunistic way to make a lot of money fast.

Because agencies know too well that often their very best work has been made for charity clients. Often these ideas are made for clients who are very grateful for the ideas that the advertising agency has created on their behalf, with less stringent guidelines on what can and can't be done for the brand. So, both parties are happy. Agency gets to produce some outstanding work. And charity gets a brilliant idea for much less than market value.
What do the awards shows get out of all the charity entries?

Money. And lots of it.

So, imagine how good it would be if our industry award shows gave back a little more to the community, as well as awarding the very best ideas in the world.

Imagine if the entire entry fee for every charity campaign entry went straight to the charity.

As an example, in 2015, Cannes Lions posted a revenue of more than $AUD 75,000,000. No, seriously. One can only wonder how much of that came from entries for charity campaigns.

If we could channel a portion of this money back to the incredible organisations who are truly making a difference in the world, it could even make the general public think that advertising people aren't the wankers they think we are.

In fact a 2016 Roy Morgan poll suggested only 9% of Australians thought advertising people were honest and ethical! Not ideal.

I can only imagine how much money could be raised each year for charities across the world. It could make a real positive difference in the world. And the work can still get recognised with shiny metal objects, but with the added glow of knowing a good deed has been done well.

Everybody wins.


A fan said:

Great idea. Right now it's pure exploitation by agencies who don't give a shit if the idea works for the charity as long is it works for the agency.

A friend said:

Alex, ace for you to take the the time to pen positive thinking around how we could be better as an industry. I actually have a title for your next piece if interested.

"Why CB trolls should donate their time from putting everything down to thinking about how we could be a better more collaborative industry"

Keep it up fella.

Nick said:

Excellent idea.

Nancy said:

Titanium for Alex

Gawen said:

Good thinking and well argued
Who will now action this idea ?
Suggestions ,,,

ailes said:

Awesome idea Alex.

Ian said:

Yet another good idea Alex.

DK said:


Ideas are only truly great when made said:

Make it

Great idea said:

It's a shame you've probably knocked 75% of Ascential's revenue or it might get up!

Bravo. said:

This is the best thing I've seen on CB in a long, long time.

I have a better idea said:

I have a better idea. Stop doing work for charities all together and start focusing on your real paying clients. It’s been amply demonstrated that scammy charity ideas rarely if ever meet their objectives, financial or otherwise, don’t build any equity or differentiation in an ocean of other charities and are forgotten a lot quicker as they’re usually one-offs with no long-term strategy. That’s apart from putting an enormous amount of strain on resources that could be better utilized on proper clients or new business. Our industry is in the duldrums at the moment, times are tough and our obsession with winning awards with scammy ideas for charities is not helping one bit. I don’t see any of the consultants or big tech companies wasting their time with this kind of nonsense. It’s usually ad agencies concerning themselves with this ‘Fools Gold’ and they should probably stop as they are dragging us all down.

Another better idea said:

The agencies could skip entering the awards and give the entry fees to the charity instead? Maybe make the “pro bono” work effective for the charities rather than just to win awards.

Ken Oath. said:

The only people making money from proactive charity work are the awards shows.

ES said:

Such a great idea Alex!

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