As the IPA's incoming director-general, Hamish Pringle has staked
much on the reform of the IPA Advertising Effectiveness Awards. He's
been closely identified with them for some time and it is he who will
have to field the questions if the latest attempt to revive them
Out goes "advertising" from the title in recognition of the importance
of forms of communication other than advertising alone in successful
In will come - or so the IPA hopes - the media, direct marketing and
sales promotion specialists for so long relegated to the sidelines when
effectiveness was honoured, their contributions to it largely
It's a welcome start. The awards were becoming increasingly out of
touch, with lean-running modern agencies no longer able to commit time
or resources to the production of 4,000-word case studies.
It's right, too, that the changes acknowledge the claims of other
disciplines to be central to the communications process. Indeed, the IPA
has long since encouraged media specialists to become members in their
What's more, the media independents bring with them the rigorous
quantitive research disciplines vital to a successful effectiveness
If it all goes to plan, the revitalised awards will make the
effectiveness culture an integral part of everybody's working life and
not something to be considered in order to win a prize every couple of
At the same time, they can prove themselves of significant interest to
clients keen to understand more fully the relationships between the
various elements of their marketing mix and how to spend their budgets
to full effect.
The worst-case scenario is that industry indifference to the awards is
growing beyond the IPA's power to cure. The fact that only half the top
20 agencies took part last year and entry numbers declined despite a
huge PR exercise is a measure of the apathy which must be overcome.
"I would be very disappointed if we didn't significantly exceed last
year's entry total," Pringle says. Let's hope he's right. Because if
agencies don't take the awards seriously, they certainly can't expect
clients to do so.