Riccardo Fregoso: ‘The benefits of award shows are indirect and intangible’
Posted on 2024 Jun,26  | By Ghada Azzi

Riccardo Fregoso, Chief Creative Director – Dentsu Creative SEMENAT, took part in the Jury at this year’s Dubai lynx. He was also among the global experts from across the creative industries who were selected to shortlist world-class creative work at Cannes Lions, as he judged Brand Experience & Activation Lions. Riccardo shares his take on this year’s Dubai Lynx results, and what he thinks about awards in general and the regional industry in particular.

What’s your take on this year’s results at the Dubai Lynx? And what does it tell you about the regional industry?

I left the jury room feeling that everything is possible here. The amazing cultural diversity, the ambition and the appetite for innovation in the region is a great recipe for creative excellence.

It is great to see both local brands and big global brands experimenting with new ideas and creating global firsts, which I think is testament to the growing confidence and clout of the MENA creative industry.


We have noticed a growing confidence and quality in the work coming out of the Middle East. What are your thoughts on why that is happening now?

I was surprised about the - very elevated - quality of the output in Radio and Audio at Dubai Lynx, a category with lower investments at the moment. But probably that’s exactly the reason why: budget constraints push the creatives to challenge themselves at a higher level, with the greatest freedom, whereas in the Film category, I can feel that big budgets don’t very often mean content capable of having a real impact in culture and society.


How do you view award shows in general? And why have they become an integral part of the industry ecosystem?

Awards help drive creative excellence through setting the bar and knowledge sharing. A focus on evaluating our output holds us to account and inspires us to do bigger, braver work.


“Whilst we must always keep creative excellence our ambition, when it comes to industry awards, we’re all winners.“


Is your participation in awards something planned way in advance with a budget specially allocated for it?

Our focus is always on the client’s problem and solving that through creativity. We also see creativity as way to empower end enlarge clients’ business. Considering ourselves as business consultants we love to seize and discuss with clients the best way to show/represent a creative work developed together – this including budget for awards entries.

Needless to say that such discussions around budgets and awards often come after we’re happy with our work – it’s an output, not an objective.


Many believe true winners of award shows are the organizers charging exuberant prices for entering work or attending ceremonies. What’s your take on this?

The benefits of award shows are indirect and intangible – they focus and drive creatives, inspire new and fresh talent, cement relationships with clients and so on. Whilst we must always keep creative excellence our ambition, when it comes to industry awards, we’re all winners.


Some agencies have a creative force specially dedicated to crafting award winning campaigns, mostly ghost campaigns. What do you think of this?

When scam work happens, it’s a sign of a loss of focus amongst Creative leadership. Ultimately, I think our role as creatives is simple: to give back beauty to the world. That’s why we show up to work every day – if it becomes about just winning metal, then we lose all meaning. 

Interview was first published in ArabAd print edition dated Q2 - 2024