I'm reading right now "And All the Devils Are Here," a book on the collapse of the American (and world) financial system by Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera. One of the small bits of chicanery that led to the latest destruction of our world was perpetrated by ratings agencies like Standard & Poors and Moodys.
In early, more honest times, ratings were based on scrupulous analysis. During the crisis triple A ratings--the safest of the safe--went essentially for sale. If you could pay for it, you were bestowed it. After all, the ratings agencies were public companies. They couldn't afford to turn away the customers who would be turned off if they remained stringent while their competitors kowtowed to the big money boys.
It occurs to me, as I look at the output of the "advertising awards industrial complex" that much the same is happening in the advertising world.
Ads and agencies are heralded for work that may or may not be real, and that may or may not have built clients' businesses or driven sales.
The awards shows, our industry's equivalent of Moody's, bestows honors on agencies that pay huge fees. The veracity of what they are judging is someone else's department.
So we call work solipsistically created to win awards award-winning, our criterion for judging is only that it looks award-winning.
We expend our energy running around in ever-tighter circles applauding ourselves while there's real work to be done.