Kevin Swanepoel: why The One Show needs to be global

Kevin Swanepoel is CEO of The One Show, initially a New York event but now global. The One Show World Tour is in London, at Mother in Shoreditch on Wednesday October 14 from 6.30pm, before heading to China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Australia. It finishes in Mumbai on December 11-14.

1/Awards shows are now a global business. Where does The One Show fit in?

From a sheer numbers standpoint, The One Show is probably the second largest awards program globally, attracting a little over 22,000 entries in 2015 from 69 countries, the UK, Canada and Germany consistently vying for the second-most entries after the US. More than 75 per cent of entries come from outside the the US.

The One Club, a non-profit that produces The One Show, is a supporter of a creative’s career, from start to finish, from students to lifetime achievement award. The One Show is a step in that creative journey that The One Club supports.

2/The One Club is not-for-profit. What are The One Club’s objectives? Have these changed over the years?

The One Club’s mission remains the same: promote creative excellence in advertising and design. Over the years, we’ve added programs to serve that mission in different ways, from diversity programs like ‘Here Are All The Black People’ to mentorship programs like the Creative Leaders Retreat series. We also work harder to take that mission around the world. We recently appointed an international Board of Directors with board members in South America, Europe and Asia.

But wherever we go and whichever program we introduce, The One Club and The One Show’s reputation will always be built on the integrity and caliber of the judges, the fairness of the judging process, and the dedication to identifying the most innovative and creative work of the year.

3/With the growth of digital there are now a multitude of categories in the big shows. Sometimes they seem more like tech events than advertising. Is this a problem or an opportunity?

A good awards show should be reflective of the industry it honors. Technology has expanded and diversified in ways that allows creatives to solve problems in increasingly varied ways. I think that’s a tremendous opportunity. We find ourselves in muddy waters when shows award work using technology for the sake of using new technology. Good creative is good for business. If it doesn’t accomplish that, it’s a gimmick.

In that respect, The One Show, receiving almost 5,000 digital entries, does a very good job. While we do celebrate creative use of technology and UX/UI, the work is always judged first and foremost as a creative concept and idea. That idea is clear at our festival, Creative Week, where you’ll be surrounded by creatives and designers, not tekkies.

4/All the big shows have an educational element. But many people would say that advertising isn’t as good as it used to be. Is this emphasis on education actually achieving anything?

Advertising has changed and is still changing. Some might feel like it is not as polished or as ‘Good’ as it was in years past but this is simply not true. There may be fewer big production TV campaigns, but that’s only because the nature of the industry has changed. We’re seeing not just creative use of technology but also the seamless intertwining of brand and entertainment as well as some industry-changing corporate social responsibility.

There are so many more vehicles to promote advertising today, the sheer volume of which means there’s going to be a broader range of quality. But the best advertising of today I would say is the best we’ve ever seen, and I believe education, portfolio schools really honing skills and educating on the new direction the industry is taking, has had a role to play.

5/You’re on a world tour to promote The One Show. Where are today’s great ads coming from?

Honestly, it is amazing to see the winners each year coming from big agencies and small agencies alike. A great creative idea can be executed with a small $500 budget like ‘Fuck the Poor’ from Publicis London to a large production ‘The Epic Split’ from Forsman & Bodenfors. The only creative trend where a country is consistently out-performing most is Japan in design.

We’re building on our partnerships in Europe, Asia and other parts of the world to make sure that there’s awareness of The One Show in all those areas so that the best creative work is entered, wherever it may originate.

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