Briefcam Buys Frost Award*

By: John Honovich, Published on Jun 20, 2019

Frost 'awards' are well-known and widely disrespected. Now Briefcam is touting their win.

briefcam buys frost award

The way it has worked for many years is that Frost gives companies awards for 'free' and then tells the 'winner' that they cannot tell people about it unless they pay Frost, making the award invisible and virtually meaningless unless the 'winner' pays up. Moreover, the 'awards' are based on vague categories and negligible 'research'.

We first covered this a decade ago: Do Not Trust Frost & Sullivan Awards and a year ago CEO Refuses To Pay For Frost & Sullivan Award.

Briefcam CMO Stephanie Weagle confirmed to IPVM they followed the standard Frost process:

BriefCam is not a Frost & Sullivan customer, nor did we pay for the award.

BriefCam was notified that we had won the award back in late April. BriefCam purchased the re-print rights of the summary doc (which you downloaded), enabling BriefCam to share the content, and excerpts of the content in print and digitally. [emphasis added]

To the contrary, as one CEO discovered about his Frost 'award':

paying for an award creates a perverse incentive for all parties involved in such a transaction, especially the company offering the awards.

I was then assured that the payment is not for the award itself, but rather for the right to ‘license the copyright’ to the award. What that turns out to mean in practice, however, is that you are not allowed to mention that you won the award if you do not pay for it. (The value of an award is mainly to serve as a third-party validation of the value-add or contribution of a company or person, and so not being able to mention or publicise an award basically renders it meaningless.)

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The award Briefcam 'won' is the:

FROST & SULLIVAN BEST PRACTICES AWARD SURVEILLANCE ANALYTICS SOLUTIONS - NORTH AMERICA Technology Innovation 2019

The vagueness of the award ('best practices', 'solutions', 'innovation') is reflected in the award report that Briefcam 'purchased the re-print rights'.

As another Frost 'winner', though, observed:

Justifications include that the awards are “research-based”, and that the research costs money, but I can confirm that, at least in my own case, the research consisted of public domain material obtained from a single article written by ourselves. [emphasis added]

The Briefcam report is similarly public domain material, though, given the vagueness of the award, Frost could make a case for anyone winning it.

Because winners need to pay Frost to tell people they won, it is inherently impossible to know who actually wins. Few video surveillance companies actually 'buy' though, that is clear just from the lack of public announcements.

It is surprising that Briefcam, now a Canon company and sister to Axis and Milestone, would do this. Evidently, Axis or Milestone are either not good enough to win these awards or sensible enough not to pay.

Nonetheless, Briefcam's CMO declared that Briefcam is "honored to receive this prestigious award."

2 reports cite this report:

2019 Mid-Year Video Surveillance Guide on Jul 01, 2019
IPVM's new 400+ page Mid-Year Industry Guide brings all of these issues and events together in a single resource to read and review. It can be...
Do Not Trust Frost & Sullivan Awards on Apr 03, 2009
Frost & Sullivan awards are common in the security industry. In the last decade, Frost has named dozens of video surveillance companies award...

Comments (20)

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This is really interesting--thanks for sharing. I've worked for companies that have received Frost & Sullivan awards but was never involved directly, so I didn't realize. I have been involved in other awards in the consumer products arena that were similar--you weren't able to publicize them until you paid a hefty fee for the privilege. 

Because winners need to pay Frost to tell people they won...

That’s what they want you to believe but, facts cannot be copyrighted.

If they truly won the award, they can tell anyone that fact. The report itself is another story.

 

 

 

I'll ask Frost to give you an award and you can test that :)

they can tell anyone that fact

If Briefcam CMO tells their friends that 'fact', that's probably protected. However, if Briefcam's CMO wants to issue a press release and run a marketing campaign, I doubt that.

We've talked about this in the past - the issue of 'right of publicity' that limits what companies can do in marketing. For example, if Justin Bieber drinks a certain type of liquor and someone takes a photo, that's a 'fact'. However, if the company who makes the liquor puts up a billboard of that or publishes a press release on that, they are going to lose a lawsuit, yes/no?

So could you, for example, post a picture of Frost's notice (I assume this is a letter or email) on your company's Facebook page and just never interpret what it says? Couldn't you quote it verbatim and say it's from a private letter sent by Frost? It seems like if they voluntarily and unilaterally give you something, you should be able to publicize it. Aren't people allowed to post a picture of funny junk mail? Or maybe you could post it with editorial spin ("Sorry Frost, I'm not paying. Nobody should pay for this") and claim fair use?

Or maybe you could post it with editorial spin ("Sorry Frost, I'm not paying. Nobody should pay for this") and claim fair use?

Well, that's what the CEO did here

One can try what one wants.

My understanding is that you get the 'award' (not clear if it's just by phone or some email) but you don't get anything else. So when one pays, they know there won't be any legal issue plus you get a glowing quote in a press release and you get the report to use in marketing.

If Briefcam CMO tells their friends that 'fact', that's probably protected.

ok, well how about if an independent journalist interviews a manufacturer and asks “Have you ever won a Frost & Sullivan Award?” and “Which ones?” surely they could respond truthfully, no?  That would interesting,

Now, if there was just an independent journalist in this industry who also had access to industry execs, then they might add such a question to an Executive Survey.   Know anybody?  ;)

I have asked this question of a number of executives, including yesterday, and none had. Since many execs know the deal, it is not something that's generally interesting or a thing they pursue.

Now, if there was just an independent journalist in this industry who also had access to industry execs, then they might add such a question to an Executive Survey. Know anybody? 

I think the bigger issue is that nobody cares about Frost and Sullivan awards, or gives them any merit. People don't care if you've won one or not. It's not the result of some comprehensive testing, or a leading indicator of anything useful.

Frost and Sullivan awards are basically a cross between a participation trophy and lame shake-down attempt. In fact they may be one of the few awards where you look worse for having "won" one, as that also makes it clear you fell for their scam.

The business equivalent of "You've been listed in the 2020 'Who's Who' book (send us $50 for your own copy of the book)".

 

nobody cares about Frost and Sullivan awards, or gives them any merit

The CMO of Briefcam disagrees with you.... but yes, agreed generally.

where you look worse for having "won" one

That's one of the weird aspects of Briefcam's awards, there's definitely a correlation between video surveillance companies struggling and 'winning' these awards but I thought Briefcam was doing well.

It is surprising that Briefcam, now a Canon company and sister to Axis and Milestone, would do this. Evidently, Axis or Milestone are either not good enough to win these awards or sensible enough not to pay.

Well, if there was any doubt that Canon was leaving these companies to operate on their own, this proves it :)

Don't you also have to buy tickets to the awards dinner?

Lol, I am not sure but I thought it was included with the $15,000 or so for the reprint rights as they call it.

These misleading awards and processes need to be exposed more often and brought to light as to how they work.  Thanks for putting this information out there for people to think about and determine for themselves what they perceive the value of these awards to be.

Marketeers and advertisers are experts at creating perceptions and illusions to lead your brain into either positive or negative impressions in an instant; relieving your brain of any additional cognitive processing before imprinting their intended message (and hoping it sticks).  Many companies tout this Frost and Sullivan award (mostly newer companies and start-ups with the money to pay) and it seems to give them immediate legitimacy in their market. Is this worth 15K? I guess it is to some of these companies that otherwise would not have the know-how or reach to do it themselves.

I was in my first weeks with a very well known Security manufacturer (~20 years ago)... at ISC East when it was a thing.  We attended a rubber-chicken awards dinner put on by F&S, and received a plaque.

Four years later I moved to a very different role at the same company, and found myself hip deep in market intelligence.  Our parent company had been using F&S across its global girth for years:  but I'd argue that no one ever read any of it in context.  On one page, they said the market for XX security products in Germany was $55 billion dollars, which was provided as delivered fact.   So imagine a mid-level dweeb like me taking on the C-suite worthies with actual data (developed the old fashioned way, you know, by looking?)    I would put up facts as I understood them, then someone would argue for that $55B number plucked from F&S, well, because F&S said it and it made them look smart.   

 "...last I checked there's around 80 million Germans,  For this to be true, every man, woman, and child would have to buy over $600 worth of these products, every single year.  Does that sound right to you?" 

There's an art to making people look stupid without making them feel stupid.  One day I'd like to learn that art.

On this (new) job, my second move was to find better research outfits who were as transparent as I needed them to be.   My first move was to fire F&S.    That (all) being said, I can't tell you anything about the F&S of 2019, but my spidey sense suggests they're not much different today than in 2004.

A bonus habit I'll share:  it seems that there are a LOT of companies who want to sell their research services/reports:  these are the sorts of outfits which publish press releases  like "Home Security System Market worth $74.75 billion by 2023!"  (...yes:  that's the actual headline)

Our good friends at IPVM have ponied up some hilarious "fails" from outfits like these. 

When one calls me, I first ask how long they've been covering the space, and the rep invariably tells me it's been for five or even ten years.    "That's great!" I'll say.  "I've also been doing research in this space for many years.  I know you're in the business to make money, so I don't want anything of value for free.  Why don't you send me your report from five years ago, so I can compare your data with mine.  If we're in alignment I'd be happy to consider doing a lot of business with you."     

Exactly zero percent of the folks who cold-call ever send anything , and only a small number ever call back.    (I do wish they'd quit it with the hyperbolic press releases.  Every once in a while one gets forwarded to the CEO which means I lose a productive afternoon fighting BS with data.)

 

The other thing about these research companies is that they, like Frost & Sullivan, write multiple reports on multiple topics. Obviously you're not going to get in-depth knowledge when your company does reporting like this, something that is painfully evident when research companies tout reports in 2019 that mention company names that no longer exist in 2019...or 2018...

There can't still be anyone who attaches value to the marketing puffery of any product awards.  

If Frost & Sullivan is such a BS company, how could they have possibly won J.D. Power’s prestigious “2019’s Best E-mail Marketer Posing as an Independent Reseach Lab”? 

I want an award to place next to the trophy my mom bought me in the 6th grade (at a garage sale) when she realized all hope was lost.......

Does anyone have Frost & Sullivan's phone number? 

This is unfortunate as I like BriefCam. The money for the right of publication obviously came from the marketing budge. Unfortunately, with marketing spend, 50% of it is wasted. Even more unfortunate is the fact that you don't know which 50% is being wasted...In a word, unfortunate. :)

While I agree that this doesn't seem to help BriefCam, I don't see it hurting though as F&S is (imho) is just distant noise. It's like the Yelp award for having the most reviews.

Also, I'm guessing in order to hold someone to an agreement not to publicize an award without consideration, they had to sign a contract to be considered for the award in the first place.  Otherwise, F&S would not be able to enforce a claim that they have a right to restrict publication.

What it comes down to is marketing people conspiring to look like they're making a difference.

I'm guessing in order to hold someone to an agreement not to publicize an award, they had to sign a contract in order to be considered for an award. Otherwise, F&S would not be able to enforce a claim that they have a right to restrict publication.

That's not how Frost awards work, according to the various companies who have discussed it with us. There is no contract signed to be considered. Often, indeed, we have heard that companies learn that they have won with no prior notice or awareness. 

How they restrict is that they tell winners that they cannot publicize it and Frost will not publicize it themselves unless the winner pays. So the 'winner' needs to take a chance to publicize an award that the awarder may sue them for, ergo most everyone just ignores if they do not pay.

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