The other day I fell out of bed, as usual, with an idea in my head. This is a common occurrence – it may be a product idea, a contact I decide to make, a new design, a technique, a blog topic, whatever. One of these days, I’ll learn that sleep time is for REM sleep, not asleep-but-problem-solving-in-my-dreams, but I digress…
This particular idea was to write a bit of a rant about bogus industry awards. A big topic to bite in to, but I ultimately decided that it would probably be snotty, and kind of offensive. Put the idea on the backburner.
Today, I received a sign that I *absolutely* had to go ahead and write that bit of snark fest. At least, I choose to see it as a sign. Your mileage may vary, of course 🙂
A bit of backstory here: A few weeks ago, Twitter and the blogs just lit up with wedding industry folks congratulating themselves on winning the “Bride’s Choice” award for a certain wedding planning site. I mean the tweets got so prolific, it really did rival the last 20 mins or so of that football playoff game recently. Seemed like everyone and their dog won the award.
I, however, did not – and that was a factor in deciding to forgo a blog entry. Thought it may come across as sour grapes. Anyway.
The thing is, there really wasn’t any judging or standards involved with this “award”. I know, I was one of the million or so ‘winners’ last year. I believe last year, you had to have 4 reviews on their site that were all better than 3/5 stars, or some such criteria. Thing is, my brides don’t tend to visit that site, I feel lame asking for reviews… so I really haven’t had any reviews since. I have received exactly 1 review there in the past year and a half! No big surprise that I didn’t win.
Did I feel bad? No. I understand the nature of the “award”, and it really amounts to some smart advertising for that site. Once a year, they notify pretty much everyone that they’ve won this “award”, and – being human – everyone gets excited, announces the news, and puts the little award graphic on their site. Linked, of course, back to this wedding planning site. Very quick and easy way to not only increase their exposure and traffic, but to seriously impact their search engine ratings. Smart – and sly.
Amid all of the tweets about winning, there were a few voices of reason. Click here for one blog entry that made the rounds last week, albeit for a different site. (Same idea, though!).
All this backstory, right? Anyway, the sign (cue Ace of Base..)? One of my cake tweeps mentioned that the both of us are apparently on this list of ‘winners’ (*chortle*), though neither of us received notification about it when everyone else did. I did go to the site to confirm. Sure enough, right at the top of the list of ‘winners’ – pretty much EVERY cake company in the cities – was Celebration Generation. Woot?
I won’t be bragging about it, I won’t be pasting a link to the site, or their little “Bride’s Choice” banner, because I don’t play that game. There are an awful lot of games in this industry, and I’m just not into that crap. Does refusing to play the game hurt me at times? Sure.. ask me about the local mag that actively badmouths me. Why? Cause they had me do a custom fake cake for a photoshoot, then lied about one of the other cakes involved, in such a manner as to disparage the use of fondant.
I’m sorry, but if you bash the use of fondant, claim to never use it because it’s “so horrible”, then do ALL of your advertising featuring fondant cakes, AS WELL as photoshoots.. you’re a big hypocrite. If, as a magazine, you know all of this, yet knowingly caption the cake as having been – let me quote here – frosted with their signature buttercream, for the look of fondant without the gummy texture”, I’m going to call you out on it. It’s called having morals. Yes, that was all from memory, from a year ago – I was mad! Why mislead brides like that? Oh yes, because this cake vendor is a prominent advertiser. Sure. ARGH!
I digress, again. “The game” is something that’s annoyed me for a very long time, you see.
In other, more local news, a local wedding mag is currently soliciting votes for their “best of”. Please don’t vote for me. I have no interest in that particular popularity contest at all. I can’t wait for the voting period to be over, as that’ll be when all the emails, evites, FB messages, and tweets begging for votes will end. It’s not a whole lot different than the site I described above, only this one actually involves voting.
The problem, however, is that it really has nothing to do with the quality of anyone’s service or product. You don’t have to be a bride, or even ever have been a client, in order to vote for someone. It’s a popularity contest. The cake category in particular is particularly bogus. All of the top cake companies in the state handle a VERY SMALL AMOUNT of cakes on any weekend… yet are pitted up against companies that can do upwards of 60 weddings in a week.. and it all comes down to a vote? Yeah. That’s quality right there.
That’s not to say that all awards are bogus. We were so thrilled to win the 2008 ICON award, as that had been judged by pros. I cannot tell you how thrilling it was to know that Sylvia Weinstock herself had decided my little company to be the best of the best. Exhilarating! We didn’t win for 2009, but that was completely ok with me. When Gateaux won, I was legitimately bested. An honorable loss is alright by me! I’m happy that we were nominated, an honored to be included in such great company. ISES also has a juried award, and I’m sure there are more out there. Judged awards > phantom standards, or “whoever can wrangle enough votes from whoever”.
I could rant for hours, but I’ll try and wrap it up. In summary, treat any “award” you see with a big grain of salt. Yes, that’s a nice, succinct summary right there.