Introducing the FU Awards

Free agents get the recognition they're looking for in a freelancer-only awards show.
Copied from strategy - freelancersunite

There’s a new award show that looks to give freelance talent the recognition they deserve as they become an increasingly prevalent and important part of the advertising industry in Canada.

Developed by Toronto’s Co-Op Advertising, the Freelancers Unite Awards, or “FU Awards” for short, is a national awards program and is open to any active freelancer in Canada, whether they work in creative, planning, PR, media, post-production or digital development.

“We’ve all seen a seismic shift in terms of top talent choosing to go out on their own,” Peter Brough, managing director of Co-Op, said in a press release. “Though not always spoken aloud in boardrooms, our industry relies heavily on freelancers and there was really nothing out there to acknowledge this talented group of people. We created the FU Awards to shine a light on this community who, despite their immense contribution, often find themselves on the fringe when it comes to industry recognition.”

Freelancers must be nominated by another on the Freelancers Unite website between now and Oct. 10. A jury of industry professionals will review the nominations and judge them based on partnership, creativity and impact, with the 10 most deserving of recognition honoured at an event in November.

To announce the launch of the program and drive nominations, Co-Op created a video showing all the hard work independent talent puts in to show that “freelancing” is worthy of awards recognition and shouldn’t be considered a “dirty word.”

Over the past 10 years, the number of freelancers working within the advertising and communications industry has risen and now make up roughly 17% of the workforce, according to data from Statistics Canada. Those freelancers have also seen their earnings increase 25% more over the same period.

Co-Op itself has relied heavily on freelance talent since it launched in 2012, with its team of partners and permanent staff leading strategic development of its work, then engaging with its network to bring in the best talent when needed, to be more nimble and keep costs low.

Since then, a number of start-up agencies have launched a similar approach, either supporting its work as it looks to grow or as a permanent model, including The Garden, the Jack Russell Agency and 123w. Freelancers are also increasingly utilized by brands who have been bringing elements of their creative work in-house, such as L’Oreal, or agencies launching new content- and creative-focused divisions, like North Strategic’s Notch Video or Maverick’s recently-launched content division.

Additional partners for Freelancers Unite include production house Suneeva, post-production agency Saints Editorial, interactive agency 2Gen and digital agency Tug.