Where's the effing effectiveness entries?

Ogilvy Australia CEO David Fox
By Ogilvy Australia CEO David Fox | 6 October 2017

In 2015 I had the opportunity to sit on the Cannes Lions Effectiveness Jury. It was the first time I had been a Cannes Lion Juror and it was also the first time ever a client was the Jury President, Wendy Clark, then Coca-Cola’s President of Sparkling Brands and Strategic Marketing, North America.

That year at Cannes there was a record number of entries which sat at around 42,000. Let’s not start to imagine the money spent on entries alone, although Publicis clearly has, but let’s look at the Creative Effectiveness category.

Of the 42,000 entries 160 were for Creative Effectiveness. Not a typo, only 160 entries from all around the world bothered to put in a paper to show how much product they sold or perception they had changed with their clients’ money.

Quite simply put only 0.38% of all entries were dedicated to what I believe we are hired to do – sell our client’s brands. If you feel a little queasy in the stomach about this embarrassing number, then join the ever-growing club.

Last week I also judged the Spikes Awards in Asia where I was asked to judge Creative Effectiveness.

The total number of entries for Spikes Asia sat at 4300 overall and of this number 19 were creative effectiveness. Again, not a typo and this represents 0.44% of entries dedicated to how well our work moved the clients’ brand or sales needle.

What makes this even worse is a creative effectiveness paper at Cannes and Spikes has a window of three years to enter after being shortlisted or having won metal. So, for my examples for Cannes you were eligible to enter creative effectiveness in 2015 if you were shortlisted in any category from 2012 to 2014 inclusive. So sadly, the number of eligible case studies multiplies exponentially if you understand three years of shortlists could enter. How’s the stomach feeling?

So, what is creative effectiveness in its simplest form and why are we not embracing results as much as any other category?

We agreed in Cannes that creative effectiveness is the sweet spot between art and commerce. The intersection point where great ideas can move product or people’s minds and this is indeed, in my view, also the sweet spot for our industry. Great ideas with great results.

Then how do you measure it? Quite simply for us - likes, tweets, shares were all cast aside. Who cares how many likes it got. Donald Trump gets likes and he’s not effective.

It was quite simply – what was the clear objective you set out to achieve and how did you go against that objective? In Australian speak – did you sell more stuff after the work ran or not? If yes, then by how much and what else could have influenced the positive result?

Many amongst us look at these low entry numbers and say it’s all that’s wrong with our industry – over art directed ideas, some border line scam or a lot for charities and we are simply patting ourselves on the back regardless of how effective it was.

The reality is to write an effectiveness paper is hard graft. It takes skill to narrate a story and provide inspiration as you go. Remember you are not allowed to update your original entry video so a lot rests on the written entry.

There were a lot of entries from both Cannes and Spikes poorly written and one in Cannes was sent back to the agency with a ‘you must try harder’ attached to it due to how poorly it was written.

I worry in a world whereby we move fast, we are always on, and we are constantly running from one issue to another, that we are failing to see the craft in writing and articulating how effective we really can be at selling our clients’ brands.

John Singleton said to me some years ago when I joined his agency that nothing happens in this world until someone sells something to someone else. He was right and I fear we see selling as only for the white shoe and belt brigade. The best definition of selling I have ever heard is that it is the art of taking the fear out of saying yes. That’s a nice way of viewing the art of selling. It does not have to be crass nor cheap.

It is hard and time consuming to write great creative effectiveness papers however anything worthwhile is hard. I personally would like to see our industry get behind more results and less pretty things. I would like to see young planners learning the craft of inspirational creative effectiveness writing. I’d like to see agency leaders driving more of an effectiveness culture when it comes to awards. Why are we not teaching our younger generations the art of writing and I’m not just talking about creatives?

I’m sure our clients would like to think that as an industry we care about selling their brands and beliefs. After all, it is their money we are spending and not ours.

comments powered by Disqus