The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

If You Want To Know The Truth, Don’t Ask Someone Whose Livelihood Depends On It …
December 6, 2007, 7:00 am
Filed under: Comment


I judged a very famous Advertising Effectiveness Award recently and have to say I found the whole thing utterly frustrating and disappointing.

I’ll write about why another day [after the official results come out so I can give specific examples to demonstrate my point without getting into any trouble with the ‘Authorities’] … however it reaffirmed my view that any company who chooses an agency based purely on the number of Effectiveness Awards they have is about as flawed as any company who chooses an agency based purely on the number of Cannes Lions they’ve attained.

This industry cannot keep naval gazing – it needs to do some wholesale changes if it is to move forward and have true commercial value again – and while you’d think effectiveness awards help [which to a degree they do – some much more than others] in the big scheme of things, I believe they are adding of the cause rather than the solution.

Let me put this on the backburner for a while but it’s a bloody massive issue and I look forward to taking it on – even if it means I might never again be asked to sit through days and days and days of case studies where 90% of the submissions prove too much of advertising deludes itself that it makes a massive difference to a companies success both interms of profit and popularity.

[Saying that, when I come across a submission that truly demonstrates an agency solved a clients business issue thanks to their brains, imagination, bravery and creativity – then it makes me feel excited to the point of bursting]

27 Comments so far
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i always get really puzzled by these kinds of awards – like the film ones that are for best box office performance, or the music ones that are for best sales. i always thought that awards were given for the kinds of performance that is not quite as quanitifiable. aren’t the high sales, quick turnaround etc, the best kind of indication that you rock as far as effectiveness goes? and then you just get a cannes lion because you do cool stuff (that doesn’t necessarily work, but might be inspiring).

Comment by lauren

I’m sensing you’ve been reading claims of growth in shareholder value being directly correlated to the coincident timing of an ad campaign while ignoring all the strategic and process changes that had nothing to do with the agency but probably made a much bigger impact. (it’s late here so sod the punctuation)

Comment by John

This is a massive issue that many people agree with but most keep quiet about for fear of reprisals. I know that sounds dramatic but the people who run many of the effectiveness awards, especially a certain global one, can be quite petty and vindictive when challenged.
Gareth Kay brilliantly brought the issue up a while back and it made me ill to see how few people jumped to his defence so maybe both of you can combine on the issue or launch that real advertising effectiveness award you wanted to do with Colin. Like you said, there’s never going to be a perfect solution but there’s got to be one that doesn’t have as many flaws as many of the current crop and I say this as a multi effectiveness award winner. Great post, I can’t wait till you really let rip.

Comment by Pete

I absolutely believe awards play an important role for the ad industry – they help validate our influence, celebrate our success and inspire clients and practitioners alike to aim higher – however in the case of the awards I judged recently, the credit for any [supposed] effectiveness should of been pointed towards the marketing / sales and distribution companies, not the advertising agencies.

There’s loads I want to write about this subject … how most agencies still think interms of ads not ideas … how creativity tends to only be aimed only at ‘media channels’ rather than all the other areas it could touch [including product development] … how it is ridiculous to try and claim sole credit for success without appreciating the role of things like sales, marketing, packaging, distribution, price, economy etc … how media companies talk a great game but 90% of what they do [at least interms of the awards I judged] seemed to be stock-standard approaches … the list goes on and on and on …

Lets be honest, most award programs are done to validate our own deluded self importance in the World. As I said … they can play a part in helping business grow [and I am all for that] however just like winning an Oscar doesn’t really mean you have made the best film of the year, winning an Effectiveness award doesn’t really mean you’ve had that much involvement in ensuring the outcome.

There’s never going to be a perfect solution, but like Pete said, there are certain loop holes that can be sorted out to make a far more credible evaluation system – because if we don’t, we’ll continue to hand out ADVERTISING effectiveness awards when the reality is advertising had fuck all to do with the result.

Comment by Robert

Then there’s the issue of clients giving briefs without quantifiable [or meaningful] targets … but as I said, that’s all for my Jerry Maguire moment, ha!

Comment by Robert

I think I know exactly what/who sparked off this post of frustration. You were more direct last time you went after them. Ha!

Comment by fredrik sarnblad

Don’t worry Fred – I’ve not gone soft, it’s definitely going to be a weapon of mass destruction!

Comment by Rob

How soon will you launch the WMD? Can’t wait.

Comment by pooR\

As soon as I find out I’ve not won an award …

[That’s a joke by the way]

Comment by Rob

And the winner is … KABOOM!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

“And the winner is … someone who proves this should be called the Marketing Effectiveness Award because the input from adland was minimal other than shouting alot”.

[Well, there’s a 90% chance of that, I just hope the 10% that deserves it, gets the acclaim!]

Comment by Rob

I feel like I should run the “real” advertising awards.

Best ad
Worst ad
Best strategy in an ad
Worst strategy in an ad
Best effectiveness in an ad
Best direction in an ad
Worst direction in an ad
Most gratuitous use of pack shot
Worst dubbing in an ad
Best character in an ad
Worst character in an ad
The PI Helpline award for outstandingly awful personal finance or accident laywer ad

Comment by Rob Mortimer

[The Bloggies]

Comment by Rob Mortimer

…and each ad can be sponsored by a different blog!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

You never saw cynic’s SMELL awards did you?

We celebrated the WORST in advertising – it was fucking classic and we had so many entries [or should I say annon reccomendations] it was a joke, ha!

Comment by Rob

I did. I think I voted for them…

But I like the idea of doing this. If other blogs are involved in the awards then it gives them reason to bring people in. And its not me personally slagging ads off so it shouldnt affect employment chances!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I’ve read submitted (non-published) papers for the awards before and the amazing thing is the standards in the entries that don’t win. Until an agency award is available which applies to all an agencies clients and not just the star client, the worthiness of these awards has to be questioned. Your last comment is important though – they awards sometimes highlight some great work but the c**p masks it.

Comment by John

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Alright John – tell me what you would like to do, I’ll tell you what I am hoping to do with Colin @ Crispin and if they fall into line [which I think they would] we’ll go for it.

Comment by Robert

I should also point out that like Pete, my views on the majority of the effectiveness awards [but not all] has remained despite also being the recipient of quite a few throughout my career.

This isn’t sour grapes – this is about moving advertising forward … pushing them to think bigger than just ads and that initial spark of consumer interest … it’s about getting them involved in all consumer touch points – be it the actual brand creation to carrier bag and pretty much everything inbetween.

And to those who think that’s 360 marketing, you’re wrong, 360 is focused on ADVERTISING touchpoints, not consumer touchpoints.

And if you want some examples, either read previous points on this blog or drop me a line and I’ll happily bang on about what we have – and continue to – do for clients as diverse as NASA to Virgin.

Oooooh this issue really is getting me heated – I look forward to the ‘release’, ha!

Comment by Robert

This last comment is brilliant – clearly proving the dubious nature of such awards via such a classic case-study :O)

Comment by John Dodds

I’m not sure if you are being geniune or sarcastic Mr Dodds [which is sort-of a compliment, ha] however the bigger issue is whether you are up for developing an effectiveness award with us that is how it should be?

Comment by Rob

Hang on, shouldn’t we develop a business worthy of winning an effectiveness award first?

Comment by The Kaiser

You know what Mr Kaiser, I reckon there’s more effective companies than ad agencies. I hope you know how hard it was to write that 🙂

Comment by Rob

It hurt, didn’t it?

Comment by The Kaiser

A bit of both .

I agree with your point but my conclusion would be to do away with the masturbatory awards. The awards materialise in new business for those of you who do effective work – i.e. work that is judged to be effective by potential clients rather than by awards committees who may not always comprise people such as yourself who are prepared to question their premise.

Comment by John Dodds

Fair point Mr Dodds … but don’t forget, hypocricy [spelt in a way that probably makes NP and Marcus VERY proud] is the currency of the successful and I am just trying to be seen in that light, haha!

Comment by Rob

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