The Effies, the Clios, the D&ADs have been talking about their deadlines this month.
That got me thinking.
Long ago, when I was young (yes, you are right, it was long ago), in an interview, I suggested that advertising awards are like nipples on men: you can neither deny nor substantiate their existence.
Of course, they are there, but what function do they serve?
Do ads that win more awards win more customers?
Do ad agencies that win more awards charge a premium?
Other detractors had several arguments: “They are not about effectiveness; rarely about big brands; never chosen by unbiased judges, give no clue about advertising Return On Investment (ROI).
The only guys who get nice ROI are owners of the ‘property’ like Roger Hatchuel who owned Cannes Awards!” (who apparently made 10 million pounds or INR 84 crore in 2000!)”
Then in 2007 I read that men can lactate and their nipples do have a function!
In fact, Jared Diamond, the Pulitzer Prize (There we go again! If journalism can have awards, why can’t advertising?) winning author had suggested that starvation led to spontaneous lactation, as observed in Nazi concentration camps.
I realised if one part of my quote was proven false, maybe there is data to suggest that the other part is too!
To my pleasant surprise (you must understand I have been far from advertising agencies since 1999), I realized that the other part has been proven false too!
Almost all data suggests that:
a. Creativity and effectiveness metrics are merging: I remembered that in UK, BBH, AMV and BMP, used to be in the Top Three of both Effectiveness and Creativity leagues (1990s?).
Apparently, the share price of Winner Clients of the Year at Cannes for the past 10 years has been the highest when the clients have been producing their most creative work. (http://epaper.livemint.com/ArticleImage.aspx?article=15_10_2011_004_001&mode=1)
In simple words it means when advertising is meant to contribute to business, ‘creative’ advertising contributes more!
(Remember of course, there are more and more businesses being built without advertising, leave alone advertising awards! Zara is Euro 7 billion, Body Shop 3 billion without any advertising.)
b. Clients are participating more and more in award functions: the same article suggests it rose from 200 to 500.
c. Most of the awards are now owned by professional media companies, not individuals, who have to have aims beyond profitability.
So the only argument by the detractors that is left unanswered is that the awards are not judged by unbiased judges from outside the industry.
(For example, cars awards are judged not by manufacturers but by independent experts.)
I guess it is a non-question: if the result of the awards matches the performance in the market, how does it matter who judged?
I mean, how does it matter to the child whether it is the father or the mother who is providing milk through the nipple it sucks?