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And the Award Goes to...

November 2018 4 min read

I was fortunate enough to attend a recent eCommerce awards dinner in London, one of the many web/eCommerce/digital awards for which Cantarus has been nominated in 2018. This is a double brag – it firstly shows that Cantarus, one of the North’s top 50 digital agencies of 2018, is receiving the attention it deserves, but also that I am important enough to be brought along to such a prestigious event.

I’ve never actually attended any awards dinners before so I thought it might be quite illuminating for me to share my thoughts on the night’s proceedings.

During the drinks reception prior to the main event, I displayed textbook modesty and told everyone within earshot that just being nominated for an award is sufficient recognition and that “honestly, winning would just be a bonus for us”.

It’s fascinating how quickly one’s mindset begins to change…

Once I was sat in the main ceremony hall and was able to size up the competition, I quickly began to believe my own hype and that this award was rightfully mine. Indeed, the eCommerce Awards’ App of the Year award was my destiny.

Obviously, I was quickly reminded by my colleagues that I was not nominated for the award, but rather the company. And indeed, not only had I not worked on the Sports Direct app – I perhaps knew the least about it in the entire company. I had been brought in as Marketing eye candy, little more.

Unfortunately, the sobering realisation of my position on the recognition totem pole was quickly offset by the ample supply of free alcohol that was gliding around the room on the outstretched arms of the listless, if immaculately-dressed, waiting staff.

So after two (or five) Proseccos, I had again begun to believe that this award was mine. I was rattling off tech specs to our new friends with whom we found ourselves sharing a table for the evening. By the third occasion that I had demonstrated the app’s “incredible” gesture support and “no-friction” checkout process, I’m pretty sure that they knew how much I believed in the app.

If you’ve never been to a swanky awards dinner before, they seem to follow a pretty familiar format: pre-dinner reception, intro spiel from host, dinner, and finally – the announcement of the award winners.

Excitement builds as the dinner plates are taken away, shamefully revealing the puddles of Merlot left on the formerly-pristine table cloth. Now the real fun begins. Now is finally my moment of glorious recognition. Now the name Joe Sanders becomes forever associated with excellence in innovation in the field of mobile eCommerce apps.

Unfortunately, the break between dinner and the reveal of the award winners is apparently the perfect opportunity for the host to show off their talents, and thus the reason they were hired to take charge of the evening. Depending on how much the host is being paid, this could last from a brief five-minute interlude to a near-unbearable 20-minute showcase of everything they learned at Drama School.

Fortunately, our host accurately gauged the receptiveness of the room towards any further delay to the awards, quickly blasting through some industry-specific jokes and references. Then, finally, we had made it to the night’s main event.

What I hadn’t realised is that our category was nestled deep into the back-end of the ceremony, meaning that I’d have to wait even longer to hear my name called as a winner. And it’s not until I sat through 20 or so different variations of “Best eCommerce website/app” that I realised that my interest in eCommerce may have been entirely self-centred and not at all about an appreciation of the industry and its annual successes.

Finally, our category was up. Each nominee was read out, accompanied by a short burst of noise from the audience. Then, after a Davina-esque pause, the winner was announced – but it wasn’t Cantarus. “There must be some mistake”, I thought. Should I go and find the man to ask if the results had been correctly tabulated?

Alas, no such man existed. We didn’t win the award, and the night would be forever seared in my memory as a painful exercise in disappointment and dejection. The nomination wasn’t enough – it’s never enough.

I ended up checking out the winning app after the event and, to be fair, it was a very good idea and extremely well-implemented. But in my personal experience, it was difficult to not see our app win the award because I was lucky to see all of the hard work, ingenuity and time that went into the final product. I would write something cheesy like ‘the app is certainly a winner in my eyes’ but that would be a horrendous way to finish this article. I’d much rather leave you with a succinct but valuable lesson – don’t bring marketing along to awards dinners unless you want to annoy everyone else with whom you’re sharing a table.

Written by Joe Sanders Gracious Loser

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author unless explicitly stated. Unless of course, the article made you laugh, in which case, all credit should be directed towards our marketing department.