IDEA: Innovation Awards Revenue, rough estimates

The 2010 Innovation Annual has a lot of interesting data embedded between the lines.

There were 407 “finalists”. This means you passed the first round of judging. It was $250 to enter (for IDSA members) and $100 if you are a student.

There were 352 corporate/consulting finalists, and 55 student finalists. $88,000 + $5500 = $93,500.

The final awards cost another $250 to enter, and $75 for students.

There were 161 IDEA Awards presented to firms/companies, and 29 to students. $40,250 + $2175 = $42,425.

The total of the entry fees paid to IDSA, calculated by tallying the published winners in Innovation, is $135,925.

This is just counting the winners. The actual revenue generated by total entries is harder to calculate, as we don’t know the breakdown of member ($250)/non-member ($350) in IDSA, or how many student entries there were in total ($100).

Page 20 of the 2010 Annual book says there were “nearly 1900 entries”. At an average price of $250/entry, that comes out to $475,000. Again, it could be less if a greater proportion of students entered the first round, or more if a greater percentage of non-IDSA members entered the first round. I gave all entrants the benefit of the doubt, and didn’t dock anyone with the late entry fee of $150.

The math starts getting fuzzy, but we can safely say that the contest brought in about $517,425, judging by the original entry fees plus IDEA Award winner fees. Oh yes: if you were a finalist, you had the option of paying for a 1” x 1.25” photo in the back of the book, of which there were 35 photos. It was $300 (I think) for this photo, so that adds $10,500. That equals $527,425.

Expenses: Juror compensation, hotel, perhaps airfare; printing of the Innovation Annual, renting a room for three days at The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI, coffee and snacks and other expenses.

Juror Compensation: Page 20 says there were “18 design luminaries serving as jurors”, who worked for “48 hours” on the final awards. However, on page 17, the jury chair says it took “36 hours” to complete the judging. Let’s take the average of 42 hours. Earlier rounds of pre-judging and screening took “30 to 40 hours of work” (source: Fast Company website). Total is now 82 hours – we can take the standard 15% off that, as is the custom, for eating, bathroom breaks, socializing, and catching up on email. So that leaves us with 69.7 hours, put in by each juror in service to the IDEA, for a total of 1115 man/hours.

I can’t estimate the other expenses, or what the IDSA paid out-of-pocket to hold the event. In conclusion, we know that design competitions have the potential to generate a lot of revenue. They are probably even more effective when combined with associated competitions (such as the IDSA Catalyst Award, or the recent Design of the Decade, for which I have received an email every day for the past several weeks, it seems).

Why does this matter to you?

Slippy: thanks for the breakdown. I want to second Dan though, what do you make of it?

Design awards cost money, we all know this. Just look at IF which costs thousands of dollars. I’m sure once you start subtracting from your total amount for paying the jurors, airfare and expenses, rental locations, paying the IDSA staff which help set up and organize everything year round, etc the actual amount of money that gets pumped back in to IDSA is probably enough to sustain a dwindling professional membership and the rest of their expenses.

My biggest gripe is why my product didn’t win an award and those damn flash drives did. Grr. :astonished:(

Cyberdemon: I’m interested to see what your product was. Did you submit?

I don’t have any agenda in posting these figures; as cyberdemon listed out, there’s probably not much of a profit to be made after expenses. I think the move two years ago to “finalist” and “award” stages, each with a $250 ante, felt like a baldfaced strategy to make money off the increasing numbers of entrants.

A savvy awards organization could figure out how to eliminate most of the expenses and turn that 1/2 million into pure profit. Was the 36-48 hours of conjoined juror time absolutely necessary for judging? In this case the finalists submitted actual products, so perhaps it was necessary for the jurors to all be together.

Basically I did the rough math because we would wince each time we entered a product - sometimes multiple products a year - and pay the entry fees. I wanted to see how that penciled out for the entire competition.

In the instance of IDEA, I think the pre-judging that occurs through the web was step in reducing overhead. Now judges go online and cut down on the number of entrants to finalists. From there the finalists are judged on-site and face-to-face by the judges to select the winners.

I’ve stopped entering competitions unless the client pays for the entry fees. I think that’s fair since putting together the entires is a lot of work and unpaid manhours.

A lot of my clients don’t want to pay for competitions yet want the awards logo if I win paying for the fees on my own.

My strategy now is to promote how many units were sold and how much money they made off the product or how well received it was at some show or focus group or how much funding it helped raise (if a concept) to validate the success of the design work rather than say it won some design award.

I think mentioning real world sales figures, dollar numbers, units sold, and sales revenue and citing the press buzz or customer reviews is a good cheap alternative to validating that the design is good instead of entering some of these competitions and paying out of pocket myself.

As you know most ID guys don’t make nearly what their work is worth so it’s more money out of our pockets to promote the design only to have the client reap the bulk of the added benefits of the promotional efforts.

“awards are merely badges of mediocrity”
Charles Ives

Unless I win or judge them, then they are brilliant of course…

“Nearly everybody likes to win awards. Awards create glamour, and glamour creates income. But beware. Awards are judged in committee by consensus of what is known. In other words, what is in fashion. But originality can’t be fashionable, because it hasn’t as yet had the approval of the committee. Do not try to follow fashion. Be true to your subject and you will be far more likely to create something that is timeless. That’s where the true art lies”
Paul Arden.

I’ve seen this first hand on two occasions as a juror for the IDSA Merritt Awards selecting regional winners. Most of the jurors didn’t align on their top picks but they did align on the number 2 or number 3 person, so that person ends up winning because of the votes…

Ditto on that… I’d love to have a couple more on my independent work, but it’s just too much

There’s an excellent award in the UK call the DBA (Design and Business Award). It does cost to enter, and probably some more if you win, but it bases the wins on whether or not the design work has been effective in the business world. Has it gained customer loyalty. Increased sales. Saved cost in manufacture. All based on quant

I think it’s great, and I would value that as much or more than an IDSA award… it’s something you could sell to clients