Do awards equal business? Let's ask McCann

By Frank Chung | 31 July 2013
McCann chief executive Ash Farr.

Even experienced marketers only know one or two agencies, according to McCann chief executive Ash Farr. Winning awards helps put an agency on that limited radar – the trick is to convert.

Following its unprecedented awards haul at Cannes for 'Dumb Ways to Die' – plus D&AD, Clios, One Show and the rest – the question now is, where is the new business?

Farr told AdNews since coming back, McCann has "had a number of enquiries" from clients large and small, and has already been appointed to several projects. But he can't talk about them "for all kinds of reasons".

"There's simply not enough hours in the day at the moment, but that's a good thing," he said. "But new business takes time, and it varies with the size of the client."

Farr said the acknowledgement McCann has received at awards this year may result in being put on a pitch next year, and that the key benefit was being top of mind with marketers.

"It's never failed to surprise me how little clients know of the agency landscape. They generally know who they've worked with, who's hot, and someone who knows someone else. And that's often the basis for the pitch list, even with sophisticated marketers.

"So it's about your profile – if you're the one that's hot, if your work is being sent around virally, have you seen XYZ? That said, it's up to the agency to convert once the phone starts to ring."

But it's all about consistency, Farr said. You're only as good as your most recent work, and McCann will not be resting on its laurels. “Our mandate is just to keep going. The hubris of success is a very dangerous thing.”

On the topic of awards rankings, metrics and methodologies, he added: "We're a highly accountable industry for our work, so there will be a variety of different metrics. Rankings in and of themselves are not a bad thing.

"Could the methodology be improved? Possibly, but again it depends on whether you're winning or not. People like to fault the methodology when they're not winning. It's like inventing a category when you're not winning.

"We have some formidable competitors and it's nice to be playing among the very best in Australia and the very best in the world. But it stops there, really, and certainly I think we're humble and grounded about what we've achieved.”

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