Georges Haroutiun on the need to celebrate great Canadian work

Our founder in conversation with publisher and awards manager Vicki Hoysa

June 30, 2020

Georges Haroutiun on the need to celebrate great Canadian work


We've just launched our annual Advertising Awards call for entry, and given the debate surrounding this decision, and the changes we've made to this year's awards, as awards manager, I thought I would pre-empt some of the inevitable questions from entrants on what we're doing this year with our Advertising Awards and why. It seemed fitting to share this on the eve of Canada Day.

(image credits at bottom)

VH: Georges, why, given the ICA'a [Canadian Institute of Communications Agencies] petition to halt ALL awards shows, did you decide we should continue with our Advertising Awards?

GH: Well, after consulting with several creatives in our industry, including our Ad jurors, I had two choices, close the doors and move on or do the best we could to continue showcasing the creative work being done in Canada as we have always done the last 35 years. I decided to forge on knowing very well it is going to be difficult for us as it is for our industry in this challenging time. And because what happens to the great work that was done over the past year? People have done the work. They're working their asses off right now. If I can continue to help celebrate that, I think we should. 


VH: Knowing that our bottom line on these awards is already uncertain, why did you decide to reduce entry fees by 50%?

GH: Clearly, money is an issue in our industry right now. People have lost their jobs. Some have lost their businesses. Ad budgets have been slashed. So lowering our rates should help. We won't publish an annual, only publish the winners online and really ramp up that exposure, so the savings from printing a book means we can pass that on. And it's a signal that we get it. We share your pain. As we hope as our industry recovers, we show that we have continued to support them. 


VH: We are also pushing the deadline back a month. Why not push it into next year? Next fiscal?

GH: Well, pushing the deadline back allows the industry a bit more time. We're passing on the time saved by not printing an annual. But the annual ReportCard is important to these people, so if we're going to have our awards, it's important to them that it still counts towards their rankings next year. 


VH: We know it wasn't only about the money. It's about how agencies feel they will look spending money on awards after laying people off. What's your response?

GH: I get it. It's a statement. And people are hurting now. They've either lost their jobs or their businesses, or they're working harder than they've every worked before as well as dealing with COVID on a personal level. In the midst of all that, we have signs everywhere thanking frontline workers for their hard work. In our industry, our front line workers have been hit hard. I don't want to see the great work they've done also fall victim. I say, let's continue to celebrate our great work, Canada, and I'm grateful that I can help do that.


Vicki Hoysa
416.510.0909 ext. 30


For more on our 2020 Advertising Awards

Deadline: October 9, 2020


Above: Self-portrait of Georges Haroutiun, founder and art director of Applied Arts. Sculpture by Eduardo Chillida Belzunce. 

Image credit for thumbnail on News page: Toronto's Zulu Alpha Kilo's  #UNRAVELHATE, 2019 multi-category Young Blood winner for Peace Collective - raising money to help new Canadians .