EDITORIAL: IPA Awards apathy is a serious threat

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

brand promotion.

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

own right.

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.