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Radar Investigates
The Bogies
Radar nominates the most bogus awards in America
  

trophy.jpgDISHONORABLE MENTION In the lucrative world of token awards, the only loser is you
Sure, it's a great idea, but did your new invention win Strunk and White's 2006 Technology Innovation of the Year award? Didn't think so. There's no such thing—yet. Send us $50 and we can work something out.

In the rapidly expanding world of awards marketing, winning is rarely free. In fact, the dirty little secret is that it just might be better to give an award than to receive one, thanks to an ingenious pay-to-play model that involves perfunctory judging, zero accountability, and very little overhead—not to mention an extremely gullible public. Such prizes are now given out in the thousands every year. And some people have actually started making money compiling them into lists, people like Lynne Marcus, who charges $595 for her reference tome, Marketing with Honors. She also consults for companies seeking to give out awards, while at the same time collecting fees from companies hoping to win them. (No conflict here, she says: "If I'm running a competition, I try not to help people win it, too.")

Marcus admits that most corporate honors are far from scientific, or even reliable, because the vast majority are bestowed by for-profit enterprises. Many don't even pretend to be impartial; they just want the entry fee. In exchange, recipients can use their spurious accolades to convince the public to buy what they're selling. The system works, says Marcus, because "if you've won lots and lots of awards, consumers will believe you know what you're doing." That explains, for example, why Dell dedicates a major part of its website to the dozens of awards its won, including the prestigious Buyers Laboratory Inc. Outstanding Small Workgroup Color Printer Award. And why ExxonMobil, the world's largest oil company, crows online about the 54 awards its garnered in the categories of Health and Safety, Environment, and Social Responsibility.

In the spirit of competition, we took a closer look at some of the most grievous offenders in the field. The envelope, please ...





THE STEVIES
Winner of the 2006 Bogie for Best Pretend Business Awards


stevie.jpg
Given in four categories—
American Business, International Business, Women in Business, and Selling Power Sales Excellence—the Stevie Awards are the brainchild of Michael Gallagher who, after years in the media and tech industries, saw an opportunity to fill a desperate need for "the Oscars of business." He takes care of his own needs by charging entry fees up to $425 for consideration in 300 separate categories. Nominees have the option to buy $355 tickets to the gala, $1,200 ads in the banquet program, and $500 for the trophy if they happen to win. Gallagher gets companies like Pitney Bowes to sponsor the ceremony, offsetting his overhead costs. And since the awards are based on unverified applications filled out by entrants, you can cross off judging expenditures too.

At a lavish June ceremony held at New York's Marriot Marquis—and emceed by CNN's Ali Velshi, author of the forthcoming It's Never Too Late To Start: Practical Lessons for Creating Wealth from Middle Age Onward—the incredibly long list of winners were announced. Among them were Julianne Martin of 1-800-Geeks-On-Call for America's Best Support Staffer and the giant utility concern Entergy Corp. for Best Employee Recognition Corporate Video. But we have to give the night to PostcardMania, which won the prize for Best Writing thanks in large part to an application that contained the following artfully-crafted prose: "The objective was ... imparting to all our visitors that they can be causative over their income and expansion by understanding marketing and implementing the basics we hope to teach with our articles." Give that company a Stevie!

NEXT AWARD > >

READ MORE
The 10 Most Dangerous Toys of All Time
Lifestyles of the Rich & Fascist

12/14/06
File Under: Champion of Industry Award, Cinque Awards, Five Star Diamond Award, JD Powers and Associates, The Stevie Awards, WeatherRate




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Man, this is genius. Thanks, Ken for a great article. Well researched and a testament to your journalistic know-how. Keep 'em coming.
Posted by: CarlesterCrumpler | December 15, 2006 04:27 PM

I think the Stevie award went to 1800GeeksOnTime, not Geeks On Call. AO Geek
Posted by: aogeek | December 16, 2006 07:00 AM

Apparently you're not located in LA. Either that or you are oblivious to the fact that LA Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) has been awarded "Transit System of the Year" by the American Public Transportation Association. The award sounded credible when it went to OCTA (Orange County) last year, but Metro??? What a joke.
Posted by: mcgeo52 | December 17, 2006 03:32 AM

count the golden globes as a bogie
Posted by: ladyli1 | December 17, 2006 01:19 PM



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The Numbers
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Showbiz Data
TMZ

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Ad Freak
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BuzzMachine
Eat The Press | HuffPo
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I Want Media
Jossip
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Media Mob | NY Observer
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On The Media | NPR
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Press Think
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The Transom | NY Observer
TV Newser | Mediabistro

STYLE
Bluefly
Bryanboy: Le Superstar Fabuleux
Confessions Of A Casting Director
Daily Candy
Cobrasnake
Fashion Addict Diary
The Daily
Give Me Spirit Fingers Dammit
Go Fug Yourself
Imaginary Socialite
Cool Hunting
J'Adore Joey
Last Night's Party
Patrick McMullan
Men's Style.com
Runway Talk
The Sartorialist
SeamSters
Smashingly Fabulous
Socialite Rank
Style Bubble
Style.com
Style Tribe
Wire Image
Women's Wear Daily

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The Atlantic
Americablog
Atrios
CQ
Crooks and Liars
Daily Kos
Drudge Report
The Economist
Firedoglake
Government Search | Google
The Hill Blog
HuffingtonPost
Instapundit
Little Green Footballs
Lucianne Goldberg
The Memory Hole
MyDD
The Nation
National Review
The New Republic
The Note
Roll Call
Talking Points Memo
TPMmuckraker
Washington Whispers | U.S. News
Wonkette

CULTURE
All Music Guide
Arts & Letters Daily
Best Week Ever
Billboard
Book Slut
Brooklyn Vegan
Cool Hunter
Deadline Hollywood
Defamer
Entertainment Weekly
Hollywood Reporter
IMDb
iTunes
Metacritic
New York Review of Books
NME
Pitchfork
Pop Matters
Reality Blurred
Rotten Tomatoes
Salon
Slate
Stereogum
Television Without Pity
Variety
James Wolcott

NEWS
Breitbart
Digg
The Economist
Google News
The Onion
The Week
Wired News
Yahoo! News

MUSIC
Pitchfork
Stereogum
Brooklyn Vegan
Coolfer
Fluxblog
Gorilla v. Bear
Yeti Don't Dance
Simple Mission
Music for Robots
KCRW (music)
Insound
Allmusic
Catchdubs
The Modern Age
Status Ain't Hood

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Bookninja
Bookslut
Buzz, Balls & Hype
Maud Newton
Old Hag

FILM
Apple Trailers
Cinecultist
Nerve Film Lounge
Rotten Tomatoes

TV

The Futon Critic
PopWatch | Entertainment Weekly
Previously On
Reality Blurred
Television Without Pity
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