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Best In Show – But Who Is It Best For?

Sep 23, 13 Best In Show – But Who Is It Best For?

As a full-time freelance reporter, I tend to cover products. I’ll likely never win an award for this coverage because there aren’t really journalistic awards for those who write about upcoming products. However, I’m one who often gets to determine what does win an award.

Increasingly at trade shows products are awarded “Best in Show” for particular categories. At the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) this is for things like “Best Strategy Game” or “Best First Person Shooter;” while at Interbike (the annual trade show that I just attended for the bicycle industry) it is for things like “Best Mountain Bike” and “Best Commuting Bike.”

To the manufacturers, this is a very big deal. They proudly display a plaque or sticker or something that proclaims this is the “BEST.”

However, while this used to be things like Cnet’s award for “Best Plasma TV” at CES (formerly the Consumer Electronics Show), now we’re seeing RolePlayingGameWorld.net (a made up site in this case – I think) offering its top picks at shows. Instead of a nice colorful plaque that is worthy of a trophy case at the game developer’s HQ, we’re seeing stickers that were likely printed off an inkjet printer in a home office.

There is nothing wrong with the latter case. The little guy wants to give big kudos.

In a way, this is really clever because now the site offering the award gets some free publicity as well as the company proudly displays the award!

The question is whether this really dilutes the meaning of the awards. I thought about this as, ironically, after spending a week at yet another trade show seeing new products and determining what was “best,” I happened to catch the most recent episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia aptly titled, The Gang Tries Desperately to Win an Award.

I had to wonder what the companies go through to impress and also whether a big award only serves to push the other guys to also decide to follow suit. Does this mean once the first awards come in that everyone else just gets on board?

It also had me thinking: do companies really want these awards? The answer is, of course they do. It is impressive to walk by a booth at E3 and see a wall of plaques and stickers proclaiming this is the best. As noted, once a few awards arrive more follow, and who is going to go against the grain and pick something that isn’t getting awards?

There is a final consideration in this, too.

The awards are based on what a show attendee, usually a member of the press, sees at the show. In the case of E3, it means that the award wasn’t actually based on gameplay, it was based on the demos. At Interbike it is often based on the look of the bike and its components. The award giver didn’t actually play a game or ride a bike.

Thus the reviews of those products could be very different! This is why many products are “award winning” before these even arrive in stores.

On that note, I really need to print up some “Best” show awards for the next trade show. I could use the publicity!

Image Credit: Thinkstock.com

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About 

Peter Suciu is a freelance writer and has covered consumer electronics, technology, electronic entertainment and the fitness sports industry for more than 15 years. In that time his work has appeared in more than three dozen publications including Newsweek, PC Magazine and Wired. His work has also appeared on Forbes.com, Inc.com, Cnet.com, and Fortune.com. Peter is a regular writer for redOrbit.com.

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