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The Influencers

Shine on You Crazy Diamonds: Why Awards Matter More These Days Than Ever

AIVA managing director Eva McCloskey argues that honouring the industry’s best talent is a particular imperative after a year of Covid

Shine on You Crazy Diamonds: Why Awards Matter More These Days Than Ever

“Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun. Shine on you crazy diamond. … Now there's a look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky. Shine on you crazy diamond. … Come on you raver, you seer of visions. Come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine.”
It was impossible to listen to recent SXSW sessions and not be inspired by the creativity unleashed during Covid and all that’s to come as we enter what is hopefully the last leg of this pandemic.

The virtual festival offered real proof that AIVA’s move to tag the 16th annual w3 Awards “Shine On” is dead on.

Finding the light has never been more essential to deflated humans navigating countless COVID conundrums. Doctors from leading universities like Johns Hopkins and Mount Sinai School of Medicine even stressed the benefits of psychedelics as a way of creating brain lanes that can have seismic mental health benefits. 

The deep need for happiness, joy, and light permeated the festival. It’s among the reasons TikTok continues to attract more demos and brands like Ocean Spray tapped into a viral skateboarding joy ride by Idaho dad Nathan Apodaca who sang Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Dreams’ as he commuted to work drinking his beloved cranberry juice. It was, as some industry observers shared, a bright spot in a pretty dark year.

Makes sense that Pink Floyd’s epic 1975 classic is playing on a low-decibel loop in my brain.

Fuelling creativity while embracing the power of introspection and empathy in building a kinder future is the new world order. We have to be better at taking care of ourselves and others. That means recognising the accomplishments of talent fuelling creativity and innovation, even if they are back-end creators who typically aren’t fêted with accolades and awards. 

There’s a true business imperative to awards submission. It shows talent that you see and appreciate them. That you want them to stay and thrive, and that you are happy to amplify their excellence and up their profile even if it attracts the attention of competitors. The risk/reward is there.  

I’m excited to see the submissions that start to come in for our rebranded w3 Awards that are dedicated to honouring the best and brightest digital creative professionals in our community. The talent that drives innovation in digital experiences and in content across websites, podcasts, video, social and branded work with creative thinking at the core of it all—from all levels of budget and organisational reach. The w3 Awards celebrate those developers, designers, coders, writers, markers, dreamers, and boat rockers who make every aspect of the Web, no matter how technical, a work of art.

For our 16th season, we’ve added new categories like mobile gaming and remote and virtual experiences to ensure even the most innovative ideas have a seat at the table. More opportunities to honour more makers and doers, especially through the minefields of Covid.

It’s so much more than just about winning. It’s a giant show of thanks to your teams for their hard work and creativity. It says we see you and think you are worth celebrating. That they are your organisation’s most essential commodity, are valued, and really matter.

I’ll never forget the unbelievable ride we all experienced at The Barbarian Group following a bevy of Burger King Subservient Chicken awards. We were propelled to insane stages with smart and innovative people that sent revenue north and suiters calling. Yes, some talent was poached after racking up trophies. We were happy for their new opportunities and always there to welcome so many of them back when they returned. 

Subservient Chicken was certainly a catalyst for my career. And I still get nostalgic joy when I glimpse some of the trophies that were hard fought and won there and at Co:Collective. Third-party validation, which we all seem to need more of these days. A nod of approval during these dark but brightening days. A reminder to shine on.

Our worlds became so much smaller this past year. Supporting players in our pre-Covid worlds became stars as they found innovative ways of moving us forward despite countless restraints. Casting a wider net and celebrating stars that don’t always command centre stage but are essential to the production is a small move that can have dramatic and lasting impact. Celebrations might still look different in 2021, but the smiles and increased value felt by talent across the board will be a gift that keeps on giving. Of that I’m sure. Giving credit where credit is due is an area we all know could use some improvement in our mercurial ad world. Here’s hoping that in our kinder, gentler, more inclusive post-Covid world, there’s more room to celebrate the players who make the stars continually brighter. 


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