The march of ad tech and the proliferation of awards categories are issues that the Dubai Lynx and all other awards shows have to deal with head on.
The Dubai Lynx may have walked hand-in-hand with the development of the region’s advertising industry, but that doesn’t mean it is without its own challenges. From the debate over whether regional judges should be included, to fake or proactive work, it faces a number of issues.
“I know many people will still debate about the issue of ‘ghosts’, but we have now learned to live with them like a chronic disease with no cure,” says Hubert Boulos, CEO for the Middle East at DDB. “We now all understand that ‘proactive’ work is here to stay. The levels of creativity on mainstream work are still so low in the region that you could not have any award show without proactive work.
“My real issue with all awards shows, including Cannes and the Lynx, is that they have become increasingly about ad tech. I believe Jeff Goodby [co-chairman and partner at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners] called Cannes 2015 the equivalent of a roof tilers’ convention, because he could not even describe to a layman what he saw. I am 100 per cent with him on that.
“Ad tech probably yields more money for the organisers, but whether organisers like it or not, this is going to drive admen away from such events. I personally used to love the conferences and would try to spend as much time as possible listening to the speakers. Now I can hardly find anything interesting and, believe me, this is not because I am more knowledgeable. I just don’t give a damn about algorithms and nerds orgasming about new ways to stalk consumers without an ounce of an idea on creativity.
“So basically my main issue is that if I wanted to hang out with a bunch of nerds and listen to their dorky point of views or creativity, I would have never picked advertising in the first place. So my advice to the Lynx and Cannes is that ultimately they need to decide who they really want at their event.”
For Nicolas Geahchan, regional executive creative director at J. Walter Thompson MENA, the proliferation in awards categories is of concern.
“Year on year we’re witnessing the creation of new categories and sub-categories at Lynx (and all other global shows),” he says. “As a result, investment from the agencies’ side is also growing and beginning to reach almost unrealistic amounts. With the tough economic conditions we are going through as a result of falling oil prices, we might be seeing more networks and agencies revisit their award budgets or simply decide not to participate. If Dubai Lynx becomes a show where only big spenders can win big, it would be disastrous for the industry and not at all good for the show’s reputation.”