The shortlist showcases a spectacularly diverse range of cases united by a common cause - the demonstration of payback for investment in marketing communications. And this payback is proved to the highest standards. The stories told cover commercial and public sector, short- and long-term effects, single- and multi-market, focused and multi-channel approaches, big and small budgets, launches and reversals of fortune. There is much here to nourish and stimulate those who wish to understand how communications works.
The relative merits of the individual winners are for the reader to consider. But, taking them as a whole, the most striking change from previous IPA Effectiveness Awards is the extent and fluency of use of multiple channels among this new generation of winners.
Integration is now so much the norm that the term itself seems almost obsolete. Success is not driven by simply distributing ideas in matching luggage form across multiple channels, but by the scientific deployment and skilful blending of the right channels for the task and the audiences involved. Likewise, what were historically segregated as new and old media have come to form a single armoury at the disposal of clients and agencies seeking competitive advantage. While progress in consideration and deployment of channels is both rapid and impressive, there remains limited attention to evaluation of some of the less-established channels. There is still more work to do here if we are to prove the full worth of increasingly sophisticated communications campaigns.
For the first time, this competition was open to clients, agencies and media owners - appropriately so, given the increasingly blurred lines between all three. Although agencies continue to dominate the list, it is encouraging to see the initial appearance of other organisations alongside them.
Perhaps more noteworthy is the presence of both multi-market and papers from outside home waters. These fascinating stories describe unfamiliar (to many UK readers at least) tasks, markets, audiences, creative campaigns and media environments. They enjoy no special dispensation in the judging process but have set the bar high for future entries.
Finally, a word to the authors and those who gave permission for these cases to be submitted. We thank you for adding to the body of important learning about the value of communications and how it works. May readers be as inspired as the judges were by reading your stories of success.