Meet the jury member Mark Tungate: COVID proved that the award shows have a right to exist

Mark Tungate is a British journalist and author based in Paris, he is also the Editorial Director of the Epica Awards.
What has been the impact of COVID on the advertising awards business?
We had the difficult year of 2020, but we did not cancel. We got enough entries to survive. Normally, we get 4 – 5,000 entries, but in 2020 we got only 1,000 entries.
In 2021, we went almost back to the normal level. I am confident that EPICA in 2022 will be OK, many agencies have already shown interest to enter their work.
This year, the Ukrainian agencies can enter their work free of charge. We have not decided yet what to do with the Russian agencies.
This year, EPICA judging will be online again but we have not decided about the gala format yet.
EPICA is owned by Adforum. In 2020, our CEO Philippe Paiget created PHNX Awards. In 2020 it was free to enter, and everybody in the industry could vote online. It went very well, we got more than 500 jurors and almost 3000 entries.
We tried again in 2021 with the paid model, but it did not work so well.
This year the agencies can submit their work for free and pay only if the work gets shortlisted. It’s going quite slowly right now, but we still have time.
Do agencies care about the awards?
The debate about whether the agencies care about the awards or not is over. COVID proved that the award shows have a right to exist.
All big award shows – like Cannes Lions or EPICA – are back as strong as they were before the pandemic.
Why should agencies send their work to EPICA Awards?
Even if you just enter and do not win, you put your work on display for 200 journalists from all over the World. And if you win, they will write about you. Even if you don’t win, journalists often pick their own favorites from the competition and write about it.
EPICA Awards have been around since 1987 – we have a strong brand and good reputation in the industry.
We also offer publicity to the winners – I have been sharing every single winner on social media, and we also post the winners on our website.
EPICA Awards are part of different industry rankings.
The Epica jury consists of editors and senior reporters from marketing magazines and websites. The Epica Awards are the only industry awards to be judged solely by journalists. How are marketing publications doing after COVID?
Serious publications seem to survive – Adweek, Campaign, Strategie – all are still strong. We have added some more “informal” industry experts from marketing blogs in recent years too.
The only major marketing publication that has gone out of business is M&M from Finland, this came as a shock to me.
Marketing publishers are evolving their business models – they organize webinars, events and have reduced their staff costs by inviting more industry people to write.
Why do some countries win more awards than others? For instance, Sweden wins more awards than China.
There are countries that have high levels of creativity in other areas than advertising – for example design in Scandinavia, music in the UK, and fashion in France.
Sometimes smaller budgets force you to be more creative – you have to do more with less. That explains the success of some small countries in award shows.
Then I have another theory – it all starts with one genius. This genius sets up an agency, they start winning prizes, and then young people join. The overall agency culture affects them, they also become more creative and then eventually leave and start their own agencies.