IPA Awards: A flurry of firsts in a distinguished year

This was a landmark year for the IPA Effectiveness Awards.

For the first time, entry was limited to campaigns with a total communications spend of less than £2.5 million. This meant that the 16 winners not only had to prove their effectiveness "beyond reasonable doubt", as is always the case with these prestigious awards, but, arguably, had to do so with one hand tied behind their backs.

For the first time, too, online eclipsed TV as the most-used channel. But this neat catch-all conceals the variety of digital strategies used - from pure web design to social marketing, e-mail to viral content, and much more besides. Neither does the soundbite do justice to the enduring power of TV and other "traditional" channels; these were still deployed wisely, and often with a great deal of innovation.

Finally, it was the first time that a media agency has won the Grand Prix and Effectiveness Company of the Year outright. So special congratulations to Mediaedge:cia for achieving this breakthrough with Morrisons.

All these firsts underline the continuing ability of our industry to meet new challenges. But they also highlight one of the great strengths of the awards themselves: their role as a showcase for new learning.

It's easy to forget this aspect of the awards, as the natural instinct is to look backwards into the data to prove a campaign has worked. However, as the convenor, I was struck by the judges' desire to look forwards, too. Of course, they sought evidence of success - this is the foundation of the awards, without which everything else is irrelevant. But they also craved broader lessons for the industry and our collective future: new strategic approaches, new takes on integration, new ways to evaluate effectiveness, and so on.

It was the presence of such new learning that ultimately separated the golds from the rest. And it will be the application of this innovative thinking that will prove the real legacy of these awards, for clients large and small. So as you read on, please don't view this as a dry historical database, but rather as a living advertisement for all that's great in our industry today, and an inspiration for what we could achieve tomorrow.

On that note, thanks to the authors, clients and judges, and congratulations to the winners. Here's to an exciting future for all of us.

- Andy Nairn, Convenor of judges, Executive planning director, Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy.