Wave of protest at DBA decision

The Design Business Association’s decision to hike the entry fee, by 675 per cent for non-members, to its effectiveness awards, has provoked a rash of criticism from design consultancies.

The cost of entering this year’s awards, now known as International Design Effectiveness Awards, has soared from £164.50 to £1110.38 for non-members, barring smaller consultancies from entering, some claim.

Michael Johnson, director of Johnson Banks and Grand Prix winner in 1999 for the redesign of Yellow Pages, says he is unable to enter the awards this year due to the increased cost. It will alienate all but the largest design consultancies, he adds.

M&K Design chairman Paul King has also been put off entering. He says that in the long term the price hike will have a negative affect on the design industry. “Winning awards like these is hugely important to clients as they can see the value of investing in design,” he says.

Cimex managing director Steve Puxley comments, “The DBA is completely out of touch with what is going on in the industry. Most design consultancies are laying off staff and there is a slowdown in the market.”

In defence, DBA chief executive Ian Rowland-Hill says prices have been too low for too long.

Effectiveness rather than creative awards generally attract fewer entries and the awards must cover costs or cease to exist, he says. He denies the price hike will exclude smaller groups.

“It is not fair for DBA members to consistently subsidise non-members. We want to redress that balance,” Rowland-Hill adds.

But Fitch group marketing director Peter Geubels argues the awards should be self-funding and separate from DBA membership to be fair.

The price increase could have a positive effect, says former DBA chairman and Elmwood chairman Jonathan Sands.

“A higher entry fee should encourage designers to work harder on their entries. If that raises the overall standard, it should be applauded as a brave move by the DBA,” says Sands.

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