There are no real surprises among the successful entries - from Marks & Spencer to Channel 4 to O2 and Monopoly: all are clearly identifiable as campaigns that have worked hard and stood out from the pack. And the presence of "less fashionable" agencies, such as Grey and Burkitt DDB, is a sober reminder of the fact that nice, creative-jury-tickling work does not necessarily an effective campaign make.
The shortlist is also a sober reminder to commentators (like me) that agencies that might seem to have lost some of their edge (like DDB) are actually still producing some of the most effective work around - doing exactly what clients are paying them to do. DDB has a mighty eight campaigns on the shortlist and can justifiably stick two fingers up at anyone who questions where their mojo's gone.
So, while I scramble to revise my view of DDB, what else does the shortlist tell us? First, that there are huge swathes of the advertising community who either don't have the IPA Effectiveness Awards on their radar or they haven't yet got the hang of compiling a compelling entry. As Dominic Mills wrote in Campaign last week, media agencies are still quite a rarity on the Effectiveness shortlists: MediaCom appears twice, and Media Planning Group, ZenithOptimedia and Manning Gottlieb OMD are also there - all as part of joint submissions. Only Michaelides & Bednash has gone it alone (for Jamie's School Dinners).
It's the same for direct marketing, with a solitary shortlisted entry from a DM agency (Proximity London for TV Licensing), though Archibald Ingall Stretton makes an appearance on a joint submission. As for digital agencies, only Tribal DDB is there (twice). Yet, arguably, it's these areas where the case for effectiveness is easier to make.
But it's the entries where co-operation is acknowledged by a cross-disciplinary group of agencies that make for the most interesting reading - and the most succinct. Because there is only one shortlisted entry where more than two companies are claiming credit for the work: O2's campaign "the best way to win new customers?" was submitted jointly by VCCP, ZenithOptimedia, AIS and Lambie-Nairn.
Previous O2 entries haven't been so quick to acknowledge such collaboration. But it's the mark of a mature working group that not only did they manage to work together successfully on the campaign, they also managed to work together successfully on entering the Effectiveness Awards (and I'm not entirely sure that managing to work together on the entry wasn't the harder of the two to pull off).
Agencies bandy about words such as "integration" and "collaboration", but it's still rare to hear about smooth working relationships where there is mutual respect for each discipline and a real sharing of ideas, effort and recognition. For all the talk about a return to a full-service approach, few advertisers manage to find a group of best-in-class companies that can work together without prejudice for their own specialism.
Funnily enough, O2 is one of those accounts where I've been privy to grumbles about one party or another not getting the recognition they deserve for their role in its success. This year's Effectiveness entry suggests that, by hook or crook, such resentments have been buried. Now we must wait until 30 October to find out whether this sort of collaboration is also the most effective among its peers.
I guarantee that you will soon be unable to get "Chips, glorious chips" out of your head. The new McCain commercial by Beattie McGuinness Bungay marks a return to tradition in many ways. Not only for the wonderful MGM-musical style, but also the irritating little advertising ditty that you can't stop humming. Fast-food ad ban? Phooey.