It’s called “pay-for-play” and it’s simply unethical — and even illegal in some industries.
But in the 70+ year-old AV industry, it’s business as usual.
Most of our industry’s awards are not real awards. Sure, manufacturers promote winning them as if they are. And, the magazines that dole them out pretend like they are, too. But, in reality, they aren’t real. They are a fraud.
- You can’t win unless you pay to enter: That’s right, they have an entry fee. In the case of the ones pictured below, it’s $595 per product — yes, $595 per product. That may not seem like much but this means the entries are literally limited by who paid to play (i.e., paid to enter their product into an award). Thus, this means that 1) only companies who can budget, annually, for the plethora of awards programs can win awards. And, 2) this means that some products (those that didn’t pay the entry fees) are not eligible to win as, well, they didn’t pay to play. So your award winners PAID to PLAY!
- A start-up with no budget for awards but one that has good products can’t win: Why? Well, $595 might not seem like much, but it is to a start-up. And, nearly every giant company in our industry was once a start-up — Crestron, Extron, QSC, Kramer, Biamp, Chief, Vaddio, Logitech — these are all companies that started in a proverbial garage. When they started, their first year on the market, they wouldn’t have even been eligible to win an award as they couldn’t have afforded the entry fees.
- The real “Best of Show” might not win: Remember, if they don’t pay the entry fee, they aren’t considered for the award. So, why don’t we just call it what it is, “The Best of Show From Those Who Paid the $595 Entry Fee Awards.”
- Ethics are being overlooked: Ethically, this is just wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
So, next time you see an award given to a product or company, consider that they could have paid for it!