Close-Up: Live Issue - Where are non-creative IPA entries?

Why are most of the IPA Effectiveness Awards entries from creative agencies?

Given that the IPA Effectiveness Awards are about proving how well advertising works, you would think that the more accountable disciplines - media, digital and direct - would be champing at the bit to show off just how much more value their campaigns provide for clients.

However, this year's IPA awards shortlist gives the impression that they either don't care about, or simply don't understand, the importance of the awards. Only five of the 30 shortlisted entries are from media agencies and the majority of those are joint papers. Michaelides & Bednash provided the only solo media entry, for Jamie's School Dinners.

In the direct and digital disciplines, the turnout is worse. Proximity London is the only DM agency on the list for its TV Licensing paper. Archibald Ingall Stretton appears on the joint O2 paper alongside VCCP, Lambie-Nairn and ZenithOptimedia. Tribal DDB, in twice as part of collaborative efforts with DDB London (for campaigns for Monopoly and Volkswagen), was the only digital agency to take part.

So what are the reasons for this meagre sprinkling of entries from non-traditional agencies? One reason the awards continue to be dominated by creative agencies is that the creative execution is largely responsible for an individual campaign's success or failure.

And because the larger part of a campaign is the work of the creative agency, authorship of the lengthy submission paper usually falls to one of its account planners. The size of the papers and the amount of detail they need to contain makes for a lengthy task. Amanda Phillips, the managing director of Proximity, explains: "The entry is very complex and in depth and takes a lot of time to complete. Our planner wrote his like a thesis - he had to be very rigorous. Our TV Licensing client is also very committed. So the client was prepared for their planner to take time out to do it."

Although it is just as big a sacrifice for ad agencies to dedicate resources to a paper as it is for other agencies, creative shops are under more pressure to prove the value of their campaigns and justify their often multimillion-pound budgets.

Also the IPA Effectiveness Awards were only open to non-advertising agencies after 2002. Digital, DM, media and branding agencies have had less time to get used to the process.

Even so, the lack of variety in entries remains an area of concern for the judges. Laurence Green, a managing partner at Fallon and this year's IPA Effectiveness Awards convenor of the judges, says: "It's a permanent source of frustration and disappointment because I love these awards and they're best served with as much participation across the industry as possible."

The shift towards integrated submissions, such as this year's co-authored paper for O2, means greater participation is occurring naturally, albeit perhaps not as quickly as the IPA would like. And if creative, digital, direct and media agencies can agree on who writes submissions, you can expect to see more holistic effectiveness awards in future.

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DIRECT CHIEF - Stuart Archibald, partner, Archibald Ingall Stretton

"Agencies are working together on a more integrated basis and progressive clients are encouraging it. And agencies are coming together and doing joint papers.

"One problem is that direct information is more confidential. Agencies and clients are sensitive to releasing the kind of sales and response figures required.

"Another issue is that agencies still don't work together. It takes a lot of work and collaboration to write a joint paper and agencies don't always get on. The O2 planners from the different agencies all get on, but a lot of the time there's a lack of mutual respect among agencies, which is a shame."

IPA JUDGE - Laurence Green, managing partner, Fallon, IPA convenor of judges

"Media agencies are involved naturally because they're part of the campaign. They always contribute some data, but you have to reward the authors of the papers.

"The entries often don't tell the full story of all the agencies that provide value for the client. Encouraging integrated papers such as that for O2, where the agencies co-authored the paper, might be the easiest way to encourage media agencies to participate in the awards.

"There's not an 'Effectiveness Awards crisis'. Media agencies are much more effective than creative agencies. They're good at it, but they just don't dedicate resources to these awards."

MEDIA CHIEF - Phil Georgiadis, chief executive, Walker Media

"It's physically difficult to co-author a paper. You don't want it to come out like a game of consequences, so someone has to take ownership of authorship, but the winner is the advertiser.

"If we haven't worked out that it takes a team effort to make something successful by now, we're never going to. If we're squabbling about how many agencies are getting recognition, then we're losing the point of the awards.

"Someone has to take the lead, whether you're dancing, playing a game of sport or running an advertising campaign. I think it's a ridiculous argument and everyone should grow up."

CREATIVE PLANNER - John Lowery, executive planning director, Grey London

"In most instances, it is the creative execution, rather than the media plan, that is the difference between the success and failure of a campaign. Of course, clever media planning can enhance a campaign's effectiveness, but that is it - enhance.

"Given that it's difficult enough to show that advertising works per se, it will be doubly so to disentangle the contribution of a media plan. We shouldn't be surprised therefore to see a limited number of solo entries from media agencies.

"That said, I look forward to reading the Michaelides & Bednash case. It could be the breakthrough media agencies and the IPA are looking for."


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