The following are excerpts from The Elephants in the Room – The Future of Advertising in India 2016. Readers can download the ebook here, free by clicking here.
Advertising, thanks to the awards, is becoming more award-conscious than effectiveness conscious. There is no end to the debate on awards, but there is need to mention it here.
At Goafest this year (2012, when this piece was written), I walked into the Print ads showcase area the day before the fest opened, since I was already there and the organisers were kind enough to allow me entry. Print has fascinated me since I was a child. Today, I read 7 newspapers each morning, even if I warn, often, of the imminent death of print, even in India.
I walk through the pavilion and struggle to recognise a single ad that I have seen – despite the extensive reading I do and the time I spend on the medium. I look around once more, refusing to believe that all the work on display is scam. Thankfully, it isn’t. I see two or three pieces of genuinely released work.
But these two or three pieces are the exception that proves my belief that scam ads are absolutely a crime; a waste of time – and a waste of money as well, considering the entry charges to awards.
You win; and you’ve won on measures that have no meaning to your client. Your client wants a larger share of the market thanks to your communication, not a smaller share and some metals at some awards shows. Keep winning metals and keep losing market-share and your client will get sacked – as will you.
Uh-oh. Just realised that I almost paraphrased something Sir John Hegarty had said a few years ago. John Davidson interviewed Sir John and I reproduce a part of Davidson’s piece. “On the eve of AdFest BBH co-founder John Hegarty has slammed the practice of scam advertising, and stated that effective creative work is important regardless of the recession.
Industry legend Hegarty, who is a jury president and a speaker at this year’s festival, described scam as “a waste of resource and energy”. Scam advertising, or advertising specifically created to win advertising awards, became a central theme to last year’s AdFest when several agencies were found to have submitted so-called scam ads.
“We’re not interested in it [scam],” he said. “Agencies should focus their creative department on turning out genuine ground breaking sales-related work. Not something that will be seen by a few awards juries and their friends.”
So forget what I believe. But how can you ignore what someone with the track record and stature of Sir John believes?
Not for a moment am I suggesting that you stop sending entries to Awards shows and that you stop celebrating metals. Stop the scam; save yourself a lot of money – and release the time lost on creating work that helps your clients’ brands to better in the marketplace.
Scam ads are, to me, like cheating to win a beauty contest — you go to a plastic surgeon, you get yourself some implants…
You get the drift.
Why is this so important now? Because you’re already short of resources — and scam ads will eat into the precious resources in short supply.
The other aspect is that there are many pointers that tell you that, let alone scam, awards don’t matter too much. It’s been years since the Balki-headed Lowe India took part in the Abbys. How has that affected the agency? Have they lost a single account because of not having won awards? Lowe’s biggest clients are delighted that Lowe is helping them gain a bigger piece of the pie, more top-of-mind recall and a greater brand equity.
Ask your client which he or she would prefer. A Gold at Cannes? Or a healthier, more profitable brand?