OPINION: EDITOR’S COMMENT

The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising is not a byword for daring. So it is to be commended for the ambition behind the radical shake-up of the Advertising Effectiveness Awards.

The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising is not a byword for

daring. So it is to be commended for the ambition behind the radical

shake-up of the Advertising Effectiveness Awards.



The objective was to reach the wider business community. Or, as Graham

Hinton described it: ’We encouraged the industry to add new rooms to

(the treasure-house of learning) by inviting entries which looked at the

effect of our efforts not only on consumer demand but on the hearts and

minds of all a brand’s stakeholders.’



Jargon-free, that means advertising which addresses more than one target

simultaneously. So, not just consumers, but employees and the City

too.



The old-style Effectiveness Awards, admirable as they were, failed to

convince the City unequivocally of the value of advertising. Hence the

new-style awards, lower on glitz and big on a worthy new star system for

campaigns, intentionally comparable to the Michelin Guide.



The idea is that the star-rating will be carried by the winner over the

course of a year. If all goes to plan, Volkswagen, Orange, Marmite,

First Direct, Drugs Education, Colgate and the Army will be the

five-star equivalents of la Tante Claire. If it doesn’t, the accolade

will be worth little more than a Blue Peter badge.



As ever, credibility relies on the judges, the winners and how they’re

reported. The IPA’s jury under Lord King was top class. The tie-up with

the Financial Times is to be commended. But the winners will never

satisfy everyone - it’s the nature of awards.



You can see the IPA’s intent via the new Charles Channon prize for best

new learning, which went to WCRS for its demonstration of advertising’s

effect on the Orange share price. It’s a worthy aim but one open to many

questions I haven’t space to raise here. What bothers me most is how

much the award appears to be for the way in which the paper was

presented.



The Grand Prix was a curious one given all the preamble about hitting

’multiple targets simultaneously’. Duckworth Finn Grubb Waters’ HEA

Drugs Education campaign is a reward for innovative creative work and a

genuine insight that young people are not pressurised into taking drugs

but choose to take them. So there’s no point hectoring them, better to

’educate with empathy’.



Perhaps it’s true that fewer people are starting to use drugs and that

the number giving up has doubled. But as a direct result of the

advertising?



To use as ’evidence’ the #28 million being diverted from the black

economy, saving British industry #11 million per year in lost working

days, or the #3 million savings on drugs education and ’savings’ on the

long-term cost of treating people who ’might’ have had Ecstasy-related

depression smacks of the kind of statistical manipulation that causes

clients to doubt effectiveness results.



Amid such statistical gymnastics, the ISBA award for best new entrant

was refreshing. Bartle Bogle Hegarty’s One 2 One campaign produced a 150

per cent increase in the customer base and a ’brand fame’ that saw One 2

One pass into the language and the company taken seriously in its

marketplace.



Unequivocal effectiveness. It is possible. But we must shout about it.



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