COMMENT: IPA’s Effectiveness Awards credibility queried by clients

One of the joys of our current series of interviews with the likes of Allan Leighton of Asda and, this week, Orange’s Hans Snook, is the way it offers us another view - not the consumer’s, but the paymaster’s - of the way advertising works.

One of the joys of our current series of interviews with the likes

of Allan Leighton of Asda and, this week, Orange’s Hans Snook, is the

way it offers us another view - not the consumer’s, but the paymaster’s

- of the way advertising works.



I hope the series will be read not just by senior agency management but

by creatives too, because one of the truths that emerges is that the

people who sign the cheques don’t really care about creativity - at

least not in the sense that the industry most commonly defines it. Are

we surprised?



Well, I’m not, but I suspect I might be in a minority here.



More importantly, however, I also hope the series is read by the IPA

because it’s clear that these individuals are less than convinced by the

organisation’s Effectiveness Awards. Yet these awards are held up as the

gold standard, so if some of the biggest and most successful advertisers

still find them difficult to credit, then there’s a big hurdle to

overcome.



Snook, for example, is clearly sceptical of WCRS’s claim to have added

pounds 300 million to Orange’s market capitalisation. Maybe he’s right -

it’s certainly a suspiciously round figure. Of course, what Leighton and

Snook are saying doesn’t take account of the fact that the awards have

been reconfigured, and in their new guise some of those doubts may be

laid to rest next month when the winners are announced. The word on the

street has it that two of the favourites are Colgate and Volkswagen, and

both would be worthy winners - the kind that might make Mr Snook and his

peers take the awards more seriously. At the end of the day, this kind

of credibility outside the industry is more important than credibility

within.



Of course, it’s also important to take some of the things these people

say with a pinch of salt. For example, Snook worries that agencies’

insistence on the ’one-message-per-ad’ rule is just a way to get the

client to spend more money. At a guess, the messages he’s talking about

include coverage, billing and number portability - the three major

issues confronting mobile phone operators.



We can understand his concern but at the same time it’s the kind of

thing people who don’t watch ads the real way - at home with lots of

disturbances - might say. He may well be able to absorb more than one

message at a time - it’s one of the qualities that makes someone a chief

executive - but most of us can’t. The best analogy I ever heard in this

context - from Peter Souter of Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO - was to compare

an advertising message with catching a tennis ball. Throw one at the

consumer and they catch it easily; throw more and they struggle -

eventually they don’t even catch one ball. And that really would be a

waste of money of the kind that Snook clearly abhors.



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