It’s called The Prime Directive. If you’re a Star Trek fan, you probably know it by heart. Essentially what it says is that societies must be free to sink or swim on their own without outside interference. It is, as Spock would say, logical.
So where is the logic in The WIN Awards?
WIN stands for Women’s Image Network. The WIN Awards is the first advertising awards show designed exclusively to honor women creatives. The show’s supporters say this is something that's been needed for a long time. I say women need this like they need a hole in the head.
Look, like the article in Adweek says, women make up a paltry 15% of advertising agency creative departments. They fare only better in the Director’s Guild of America at just 22%. But is a special awards show the way to solve that?
Charlotte Moore and Janet Champ are two of my all-time heroes in this business and trust me, I don’t have a lot of them. I had a campaign that lost to Janet and Charlotte in the Kelly Awards. The much deserving Nike women’s campaign. What could I say? I adored it. That work brought an intelligence and a literacy and a depth of emotion that I had rarely seen in advertising. It was huge and sparkling and historic and important and it kicked major ass in every show on the planet. Somehow, I don’t think winning a WIN award would have meant much.
I think the question we need to ask is, if talent is talent and great works gets noticed no matter who’s responsible for it, then why do we need The WIN Awards? And is it possible that what began as a well-meaning attempt to remedy the inequities in advertising creative departments could actually backfire by reinforcing the perception of women creatives as—and I think Sally Hogshead had this right-- a niche category.
There was a time when awards shows seemed to have a category for everything. Newspaper Over 1000 Lines. Small Space, Black and White Under A Quarter Page. Radio Retail, Banking And Financial. It was nuts. Until somebody had the sense to figure out that great work is great work and it doesn’t need to have its own category to prove it.
Neither do women.