What I Wish I’d Said At The AC&E Awards: AFFINITY’s Luke Brown

What I Wish I’d Said At The AC&E Awards: AFFINITY’s Luke Brown

Last night I was honoured to be named the winner of the Jon Clark Award for Most Outstanding Contribution at the ADMA AC&E Awards.

In the moment between realising it was me they were were talking about, to when they said my name, I went numb. I hugged people around me and walked up to accept the award. I was truly overwhelmed. I didn’t know what to say.

So after a very short speech, in which I sadly didn’t say anything of substance, here’s what I wish I had said.

I am truly humbled to win the Jon Clark award. Whilst I never met Jon in my career, I’m old enough to have heard of him and stories about him.

I started working in advertising in my teens and I feel the industry has been very good to me. I’m just as excited about it now 20+ years later, as when I first came into it. Everyday there’s something new and exciting, in fact everyday the possibilities seem to become infinite.

And whilst I’m grateful for the award, I feel it would be disingenuous of me not to acknowledge not only my business partner but also my wife Angela. We’re an inseparable double act and an amazing team and if we hadn’t worked together for the last 14 years I would not be here now.

I love this industry but you’d have to be living under a rock not to notice that whilst some absolutely amazing work has been developed lately, it’s been tarnished by the bad behaviour of more than a few. Think the Cannes winning ‘I SEA’ app and more recent Dentsu scandal to name just two from this year.

Digital has emboldened some agencies to inflate their campaign metrics, thinking they can get away with it. In other cases it has allowed agencies to not even do the work, but rather produce a pretty case study video in the hope it will sway an award jury.

The ANA report earlier this year showed that transparency in media is a huge issue, particularly so in digital. Data transparency is crucial to fixing this problem and it’s time we made a stand.

Which is why I have to thank ADMA, not only for the award, but for being incredibly brave for agreeing to establish an Audit Committee for this year’s awards. The job of the committee, of which I was Chair, was to scrutinise the finalists to make sure that what was being claiming was indeed true. Think of it as fact checking for awards.

It’s a shame that it has even had to come to this. We need to be better as an industry.

Which brings me back to Jon Clark and why this award is so important to me.

Someone once said of Jon. “Jon was honest. His integrity was admired. On occasions his truthfulness and feedback was so honest, one might prefer not to have received it but it made us all better people.

Jon gave, he taught, he guided, he entertained and he laughed with all his heart.”
Which is why receiving the 2016 Jon Clark Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Industry means so much to me. Thank you.

Luke Brown is CEO at data-driven media, CX and advertising agency AFFINITY.

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