Simon Marquis, Zenith UK's chief executive and this year's chairman
of the Campaign Media Awards jury, strikes a worrying note with his
assertion that the "wow" factor was conspicuously absent from a large
proportion of this year's entrants.
Too many compositions that were no more than workmanlike and skillful -
too few of them really swung was his general verdict.
One of the Media Awards' jurors, CIA's David Fletcher, said that a great
media campaign is like a terrific piece of jazz. While rock is built in
layers with everyone in the group doing their own thing, jazz is most
effective when instruments bounce a theme from one to the other.
Why then was there a noticeable lack of great ensemble sounds from this
One reason is that it's becoming harder by the day to devise a media
campaign which is truely innovative. Five years ago there was much that
was radical for its time. TV inflation and the determination to be free
of advertising clutter began turning convention on its head. Beer
manufacturers defied unwritten laws by launching new products in print;
carmakers opted for bus sides.
Today, radical has become the norm. Innovation has too often given way
to the obtuse quirkiness. It's been forgotten that great media
strategies are the ones that quietly seduce you rather than beat you
about the head.
Ironically, the effects of all this may be to turn the clock back a
Revisit the great media campaigns of the time and all had a single
distinguishing feature - their seamlessness. They were effective because
it was almost impossible to see the joins between creative and
Judged on that criteria, Naked's Tokyo Life initiative for Selfridges is
a worthy winner of the Best Media Campaign of the Year accolade with
every piece of media activity seeming to be in harmony. The same can be
said of Starcom Motive's work for Johnnie Walker whisky, a fine example
of a well-articulated and simple idea which extends the "Keep walking"
idea into TV vignettes.
However, therein lies the fundamental problem in these days of
convergence and integration. If the best campaigns are a fusion of media
and creative, how is advertising to be properly judged? That's a
question that may not be resolved for some time. The more immediate task
is to ensure awards are not only fun and grown-up but have the added
benefit of engaging clients' interest.