Effectiveness Is Just Not Cool

I sat in a major award event a few months back and asked why a crazy-ass campaign that did nothing for the brand and, to be blunt, achieved none of the goals on it's own, had won one of the top honors. To which I actually heard the following response: "You need to remember that the  _________ Awards are not about effectiveness. They're about how the work makes us feel."

Well hallelujah! Trot that out to the client and smoke it.

Look, I know that some award shows are cooler than others. I even know that setting aside at least one or two creatively spectacular campaigns that may or may not achieve anything is important for individual careers, agency recruitment efforts and the stature of the agency. But there are really better ways to entertain ourselves. We've become so obsessed with showcasing self-congratulatory, narcissistic romps through misguided entertainment that we forget we have a job to do.

Meanwhile, awards shows that showcase actual effectiveness struggle to get entries. The Caplesentries are down. You don't hear much about the Effies except as a guilt offering to justify all the other award entries. And the grand-daddy of effectiveness awards, The ECHO Awards, drops more and more in stature every year.

The goal of advertising is to increase the bottom line. There can be no argument on this fact. Not everything you do needs to show direct "return on investment" (that's what that "ROI" acronym you're always seeing in the brief means, by the way), but we always have to be showing some kind of a path to profitability. So really, people, it's in your best interest to, at the very least, enter SOMETHING in the ECHO Awards this year. Show your client that you are actually achieving something tangible somewhere. It's just smart business.

Think of it as the way to justify all those dollars being spent on your creative tour de force. You can say to your client, "The direct response component pulled in 35% more sales, thus proving that the million dollar spot with the lunar landing and the alien puppies is building a brand of trust, so that customers feel safe clicking on our page takeovers." 

Whatever! Make up something. You all know how to spin.

My point is, awards are there to justify agency investment, but creativity alone is the most replaceable factor in the client/agency relationship. Results are what drive bonuses and job security for your clients. So having at least one award that proves these results goes a long way toward keeping the client happy.

Effectiveness may not always be cool, but it does keep people employed. 

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