One, they are the definitive creative barometer of the best work that is being created in specific fields (mine being direct, of course). Two, they are clear proof of something we have suspected for a while now. Disciplines that only a short time ago were on friendly but clearly delineated terms are coming closer together at an astonishing pace, meshing and blending in ways that result in extraordinary, surprising ideas that inspire, inform and involve people in myriad ways.
The work we are seeing in the direct field is no exception. Most direct marketing agencies are spending less time making one-off direct mail packs and dedicating more hours shaping ideas and conversations through e-mails, social media, microsites and heavily personalised and content-focused engagement programmes.
Which brings us to a pretty testing conundrum: "What is Direct?" Or, more importantly, what does it mean in the context of winning a Campaign BIG award?
In common with our fellow juries, we're looking for an idea. Big ideas are what every client and agency craves, whatever industry sector you work in. Increasingly, we are seeing big activation ideas coming from everywhere and anywhere; integration is no longer a "nice to have", it's a "must have".
To be truly integrated, we must be truly open-minded. We need to embrace new techniques and new kinds of ideas. It's no longer enough to write a brilliant headline with an image that makes you reappraise convention. Now we're asking about the ripples that idea can create. What radiates off it? Where does it take you? What kind of experience can it deliver? Who's talking about it now? How long could this idea last?
For me, the answer is always the same: ideas that connect with the target audience in ways that create behaviour change, right now and over time. The "long-tail" effect of anything placed within the online social environment means that ideas can live on in ways barely imagined by their originators. In my opinion, this is a good thing. Yes, all direct work should generate results. It's just the way we measure them may have to change. It's no longer just about response rates and return on investment. It's also links and likes, replies and comments, views and whatever new ways people find of telling us what they think of our ideas; directly.
The BIG awards recognise the changing nature of the work we create. By bringing all the disciplines together, the awards present us with the opportunity to celebrate ideas that are surprising, thoughtful, relevant and executed in the most appropriate ways, using all kinds of media.
I am thrilled and delighted to be working in this industry at a time when the game is changing. When the separate futures of direct, digital and traditional advertising are becoming a single future.
And when all that matters are big, powerful, creative ideas that we can all share and be proud of.
- For more information and to enter the BIG awards, visit campaignbigawards.com.