About Caples

What it is & who we are

Awards Shows.
Here’s a new idea...

Think about Awards Shows.
They’re all the same.
They’re run as businesses to make money for people who have never worked in advertising and have no real interest in it.
They are expensive to enter.
Quite often the winning work is crap.

The Caples Awards is very different.
It’s run by creative people for creative people.
Not as glib as it sounds.
Because, being creative people, we’ve had an idea.
(We is Patrick Collister, former ECD of Ogilvy & Mather London and Head of Design for The Zoo at Google and Duncan Gray, former Chief Creative Officer of Proximity Worldwide.)
Our idea might reinvent the whole concept of ad awards.
Because our show is the first global show that’s free to enter.*

See the 2021 Jury →


Are we nuts?
No. Being creative people, we want to recognise and reward creative work that works.
Because we know how damn hard it is to do.
Maybe we’re dreamers.
But we think The Caples could become one of the largest, most prestigious advertising awards shows in the world.
In being free, it levels the playing field.
The freelancer in her attic can compete with Madison Ave.
The only thing that matters is the work.
Our judges love that they can give as many or as few prizes as they see fit.
They (almost) always judge kindly.
There’s (almost) always no politics.
And historically, they have paid their own way to come to New York or London to judge.
This year they will be zooming again over five days.
And what a stellar team of judges Steve Aldridge has assembled.
If you can squeeze a Gold out of them, my God you’re good.

The Bash

Depending on whether we have been released from house arrest, the presentation will be in Zoom and livestreamed on May 26th from 6.0pm UK time, 1.0pm EST.

If allowed out, we may get a small group together at the Groucho Club in London and livestream from there. (See last year’s event HERE)

* There is a one-week extension for late entries to May 8th but we will have to charge for these. Last-minute submissions mean late nights and weekend work for the techies.

Judging is from May 13th to 18th.

The Team

The Caples Awards is run by Patrick Collister (formerly ECD of Ogilvy & Mather London and Head of Design for The ZOO (NACE) at Google) and Duncan Gray (erstwhile Worldwide Creative Leader of Proximity and a trustee of The Caples Awards since 2005).

The real work is done by Dorte Collister and Julie Charlton.

For enquiries about what to enter contact [email protected]
For enquiries about how to enter contact [email protected]
Helpline (actually the only line): +44 (0)1622 541 515

The Caples Awards Ltd.
Tottington Barn, 352 Rochester Road, Aylesford, Kent, ME20 7ED. UK

  • Duncan Gray

    Duncan was one of the founding partners of BHWG, which, in 2001, morphed into Proximity. He was worldwide creative leader of Proximity until 2011, when he left to pursue entrepreneurial interests. Duncan has been one of the creative trustees of The Caples Awards since 2005.

  • Julie Charlton

    Someone has to do all the work and that person is Julie.

  • Dorte Collister

    Dorte calls herself the Chief Bottle Washer. Hers is the voice of reason when Patrick and Duncan are hatching plots.

  • Patrick Collister

    Editor of Directory and recipient of the Andi Emerson Award at The Caples Awards 2015, Patrick has been ECD of Ogilvy & Mather London, ECD of EHS Brann Europe and Head of Design in Google's creative think-tank for Northern Europe, The Zoo.


The Caples Awards were founded in 1978 by BBDO copywriter Andi Emerson and named in honour of her former boss, legendary Mad Man John Caples.

Andi Emerson

Andi had noticed that most direct marketing awards were being given to campaigns that had good results but which were creatively uninspired.

She wanted to bang the drum for creativity.

By all accounts she was very direct herself.

Before 'community' became a buzzword, Andi built a community of creative people in what might loosely be called direct marketing.

She was President of The Caples Awards for 29 years until her death at the age of 82 in 2008.

She was working on the awards only days before she died, making sure they were in good hands.

Photo of John Caples

John Caples

Caples is one of the great copywriters of all time.

Like so many of the calling, it took him a while to find his way.

He enlisted in the Navy; went to the U.S. Naval Academy; worked as a telephone engineer; was a clerk for Certain-Teed Products Co; and, finally, a copywriter at Ruthrauff & Ryan.

In his first year, he wrote one of the most famous direct response ads of all time. "They laughed when I sat down at the piano..."

Photo of Advertisement

In 1927, he joined BBDO and within two years there had penned another entrant into the book of "The 100 Greatest Advertisements", an ad for Phoenix Mutual Life Insurance. "To men who want to quit work someday".

He went back into the Navy during the war.

Then returned to BBDO as creative director.

He began to test the size, colour and positioning of ads to establish what worked best.

Not everyone was enamoured of his 'scientific' approach.

However, his book "Tested Advertising Methods", published in 1961, remains one of the very best How To books on the art of advertising.

And the message in "How to Make Your Advertising Make Money" is as relevant today as it was in 1983.

That was the year he retired.

Not willingly but because of a back injury after falling off a ladder.

David Ogilvy admitted that he owed much of his success to absorbing the lessons in Caples' books.


Directory magazine and resource partnered with The Caples Awards in 2018.

Directory's tagline of 'Innovations in Communications' chimes well with The Caples Awards fervent belief that the secret sauce to effectiveness in advertising and marketing is creativity.

Directory was established in 2007 and is published quarterly, showcasing the world's most interesting response-based marketing communications ideas of the previous three months.

A subscription-based print magazine, Directory's online archive holds some 5,000 case studies of award-winning work, with videos and images to download.

A subscription costs £600 for four issues of the magazine, including 5 passwords to the online version and archive. For less than the price of a cappuccino a day, Directory can keep six people abreast of the very latest developments in advertising and design.

directnewideas.com for more information or email [email protected]

Directory was founded and is edited by Patrick Collister, former executive creative director and Vice Chairman of Ogilvy & Mather London and erstwhile Head of Design for Google's creative think-tank in Northern Europe, The Zoo.