Awards and Events in association withCreative Circle

The Caples Awards: For Creatives By Creatives

Associations, Award Shows and Festivals
London, United Kingdom
The Caples’ custodians on the legacy of the global show and why they’re taking it free this year

Advertising is an amazing tool. When a piece of advertising is executed in the right way, it not only fulfils its purpose to sell, but can change an entire audience’s lifestyle, thinking and behaviour. It can hold incredible powers of persuasion.

At a time like this, when many brands are facing huge hurdles and difficult decisions regarding their marketing messaging, the ability to harness creativity to come up with solutions is essential. 

The industry is full of amazing creativity but whilst this can help a campaign gain recognition, many of them lack the essential ingredient: to solve tough marketing challenges. That’s where The Caples Awards steps in, to recognise and reward ideas that are measurably effective.  

Creative Heritage

Founded in 1978 by BBDO copywriter Andi Emerson, the award show was named in honour of her former boss, John Caples, a celebrated copywriter of his generation and the creator of one of the most parodied lines in advertising of all time: “They laughed when I sat down at the piano…”

Andi dedicated 29 years of her life as President of The Caples Awards and built a strong community of creative people around it to bang the drum for creativity.

Today, The Caples is run by Patrick Collister (formerly ECD of Ogilvy and Mather London, and Head of Design for The ZOO (NACE) at Google) and Duncan Gray (erstwhile Worldwide Creative Leader of Proximity and a trustee of The Caples Awards since 2005). 

Patrick says: “With myself and Duncan curating the show, it remains to this day run by creatives for creatives. Over my (gulp) 40 years in the industry I have been exposed to every award show going and they all do different things for different people. But I have always had a real love for this show because it has always recognised and understood that creativity is not a god-given gift. Creativity is being able to solve problems. This is an award for ANYONE that does this and does it well. It is for people who make ideas that actually sell stuff.”

In light of the pandemic, this year, Duncan and Patrick sought the advice of creative industry leaders to see how they could continue to support the creative community. As a result, this year, The Caples Awards will go ahead as planned in May but will be completely free to enter in a bid to support creativity and ensure people remember and recognise the best work created over the past year. 

Following the announcement that the awards would be free to enter, Patrick and Duncan explain: “We’d hate people to look back and see a black hole where creativity in 2019-20 should have been. We wanted to demonstrate how much we really do believe in our peers, our industry and creativity itself and show them that we really do believe this show is for creatives by creatives. After much debate and discussion, internally and with creative leaders, we wanted to do something that could support creatives and agencies through this difficult time. We felt the best way to do that would be to make the show free. We recognise that some agencies and individuals may not be able to work with us this year, and we completely respect that. In no way do we want to trivialise the events worldwide but in these unprecedented times, with so many awards cancelled, ourselves and our judges thought this could help.”

With key global awards shows being postponed until 2021, the entirety of brilliant creative work produced during the past 18 months is at risk of going unrecognised through all the usual routes. This gives all the more reason for an awards show with the capability of going online to go ahead as planned, providing a platform for ideas that matter; ideas that are crucial in inspiring and influencing the creative work that will be produced for the following 18 months. 

Patrick hopes that the Book of the Show may help to keep great work alive in 2020. All winners of the Caples Awards are showcased in the book which will also be available for download digitally. “We will be distributing hard copies of our book to all entrants of the Caples Awards. Last year it was sponsored and supported by Xerox. Their new Iridesse print system prints metallic inks like Gold, Silver and Bronze so you can see the connection.  

We feel it could have even greater importance this year helping to keep great work remembered.”

Community Spirit

With a sense of community that would make founder Andi Emerson proud, The Caples’ juries have always comprised of creative directors from around the globe and they see themselves as more than just colleagues. The jury describe The Caples as more intimate than other award shows with a warm, family atmosphere - one that has enabled long-lasting friendships that have stood the test of time. Perhaps that’s the reason why they return year after year, despite the fact that they come at their own expense. 

Historically, while The Caples is a business, its primary purpose is not to make money but to celebrate great ideas. The thing that holds most importance to the show is that the awarded work should be unquestionably good. That’s why their jurors are given the freedom to judge without restrictions, awarding as many or as few Golds as they wish. The only criteria are the criteria established by the jury President. And if you win, it will be because the people that you admire, admire your work.

The bottom line is: results are important, but what the jury is looking for is work they wish they’d done themselves. Work that truly delivers on its purpose and intelligent ideas that sell.

But whether awarded or not, every piece of work submitted is given feedback from the show’s high profile jurors. Not only are they invested in rewarding great work, but it is important to them that they help the industry’s talent continue to grow creatively and professionally. 

This year the judges will be discussing the work digitally via Zoom, rather than in person. Patrick says: “We are lucky to live in a time in which we can safely communicate and debate from our homes and although this will be new territory for The Caples, it is something we can adapt to in order to carry out the judging process with as little hindrance as possible.”

“I feel honoured to be a part of such an amazing community that strives to recognise great creativity with real purpose. I have admired The Caples Awards throughout my career and am excited to have the opportunity to breathe new life into it.”

Submissions for The Caples Awards are open until 1st May 2020. Judging will take place on 10th, 11th and 12th May with the winners announced on the 13th. For more information and to enter, please visit the Caples website

Work from The Caples Awards