Opinion: Is Fletcher right to slate effectiveness awards?

A few years ago, it would have been hard to imagine a prominent and respected advertising figure taking a sideswipe at the IPA Effectiveness Awards. Since their launch in 1980, they have served as the most powerful demonstration that advertising is not the hit-or-miss process that sceptics believe it to be.

A few years ago, it would have been hard to imagine a prominent and

respected advertising figure taking a sideswipe at the IPA Effectiveness

Awards. Since their launch in 1980, they have served as the most

powerful demonstration that advertising is not the hit-or-miss process

that sceptics believe it to be.



Now Winston Fletcher, an advertising figure who pretty much defines

prominent and respected, has delivered a stinging rebuke - at the IPA’s

much-vaunted ’It pays to advertise’ conference, no less. Is he

right?



Yes, up to a point. It would be good to see campaigns judged on whether

they generate profits, rather than just sales. At present, Fletcher says

that only 6 per cent of all Effectiveness Awards entries mention

profitability in their analysis of results.



Another view, and one espoused by Campaign, is that the Effectiveness

Awards need updating to take into account alternative ways of marketing

products, such as direct mail and sales promotion that are, in any case,

easier to chart. Too often IPA submissions suggest that other activity

is an advertising effect, rather than a measurable end in itself. A

typical example: ’Launch activity for the two brands was similar,

promotional activity was the same, radio support was provided in both

cases. The only difference was advertising activity.’



Fletcher is misguided when he says that nobody with any sense believes

advertising does not work. If so, what are we to make of the IPA’s 1996

research project with KPMG, the accountancy and management-consulting

firm? It asked the finance directors of 100 of Britain’s largest

companies what they thought of marketing. The results show reluctant

support (58 per cent thought it ’a necessary investment for long-term

growth’), but more enthusiasm for training (94 per cent), computers (91

per cent) or R&D (73 per cent). The figures suggest that influential

figures continue to doubt advertising’s efficacy



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