Festivals beyond awards

Festivals beyond awards

A Festival is not only about giving prizes, it's networking, recruitment and business opportunities. We talked to Luís Serra, Chief Operations Officer & Head of Strategy at COMON and Board member of Portuguese Creative Clube (CCP), that organizes one of the biggest festivals in Portugal, to understand more about the entire festival industry. Check out the interview!

1) For us to start, could you give a small context about your country/city and the Advertising Festivals which take place there?

I live in Lisbon/Portugal, and here is my opinion about local festivals: for such a small market, with such a small volume, we have an exaggerated number of local awards. Sapo Awards, Luso Awards, Eficacia Awards, M&P Awards, Lisbon International Advertising Festival, CCP. 

There is clearly a first prize division. The effectiveness awards (Prémios Eficácia) is able to cover the entire industry – clients, media agencies, creative agencies. This festival rewards ​​the best solution to solve a business problem. This requires a good strategy, a good idea, a good ability to measure results, and this jury has a well-defined criteria. The name of the award says a lot – it’s a very good one. 

Sapo Awards is more focused on digital, for example. CCP, which I am part of the team, I consider a really interesting festival too, because it is more than an award. 


2) How did you become a CCP Board member? And why is this festival different from the others? 

I’ve joined CCP because I was invited. Their idea was to have a strategist on the creative team. They have invited me because I have the business side, the strategy side and I am close to the customers. My mission is to bring the Creative Club closer to the whole Industry. The club’s mission is to bring the club closer to all advertising stakeholders. 

We want to democratize the club. We are preparing trainings for advertisers, bringing more juris who are clients, having more conversations about the client, meetings, workshops. 

In addition to that, the first goal of the CCP awards is to reward good ideas. The focus is the creativity and the originality, this is the heart of the creative club. We award different categories – craft, digital, film, content. We also have a side of innovation, and this distinguishes us from other clubs, the search for the new, for the different. Good ideas are meant to be copied, but at this festival, what is original is rewarded. We are working for Portuguese advertising to combat advertising abroad.


3) What do you think will be the future of these festivals Post-COVID-19?

Agencies are in crisis, it is possible that they will reduce their participation – to create a case takes time and resources. In addition, regarding the creativity of the projects, I see two hypotheses: the market will enter a recession, there is not much room for risks (this means less disruptive work); or the agencies/clients will take advantage of this moment of instability to risk even more.

It’s important to remember that festivals are not only about giving out prizes, more importantly they should be seen as a networking, recruitment, and business opportunity. There is an entire parallel industry to festivals. If a festival becomes digital, the networking loses strength and the ability to produce news about the festival as well. My two cents: maybe only the most reputable festivals will survive.


4) Choose one award that changed your agency path and explain why

ComOn has a relatively recent festival culture. This was not part of our strategy 5 years ago. Today we have a more surgical strategy. I believe that festivals work mainly for two things: 1. recruitment/human resources (there are professionals who like to work in award-winning agencies, and this serves as retention and recruitment); 2. Business opportunities (how awards can bring us customers, return of this investment).

When we won the first Effectiveness Awards with the Fox – Devil Inside project, it has accelerated Comon’s reputation, bringing direct return in new business. 

Another award worth mentioning was the CCP in which we won gold with the MUSA – No Labels campaign. Going to the stage at Clube dos Criativos made the culture of agency intensify. These are more flexible prizes, so going on stage helped the team to decompress. 


5) Final thoughts about the theme?

I just want to share one piece of advice for the agencies that are considering entering the awards industry: don’t be judicious, participate a lot. In the beginning, it is necessary to increase participation to learn how to make a good case. The culture of awards is complex, and it is important to learn. It’s crucial to have experience and a defined agenda – how, why, when. Nothing happens by chance when we are talking about festivals.