The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Living In The Bubble?
August 28, 2012, 6:20 am
Filed under: Comment

Watch this:

While the people in the video are all highly esteemed, very successful members of the advertising community … having achieved heights I wouldn’t be able to reach in 1000 lifetimes, I do find the whole thing a big depressing.

I don’t know why.

Maybe it’s when David Droga say’s, at 5 minutes 5 seconds, “We were not asked to judge on the effectiveness, just the idea” when surely the whole point of ‘an idea’ – at least in terms of commercial communication – is to be effective.

OK … OK … that’s the planner in me coming out and I know Mr Droga is very smart and very successful … however I don’t think comments like that do our industry any good.

Sure, there are times – as I know first hand – that an idea fails to reach the level of success you hoped for or expected and without a doubt, if we don’t push for new ideas then we won’t be able to create new ideas, but to celebrate anything that commercially ‘flopped’, regardless of [1] external factors beyond your control and [2] how great and imaginative it is … seems to fly in the face of what our industry claims it does, which is to help business grow.

This post is coming out wrong because if you follow what I’m saying to its natural conclusion, I’m seemingly advocating a risk free creative approach to everything, but that’s obviously not what I mean, I’m just saying that if we are to hand out ‘black pencils’, surely the criteria for the ‘best campaign idea’ category [or whatever it’s called] is to also appreciate the need for it to actually achieve what the client handed over their money for in the first place.

By all means, hand out as many black pencil’s as you want for design, craft, music, film, packaging, animation, product design, technology, art direction or, as in the case for the wonderful Kaiser Chief’s campaign, ‘ingenuity/invention’, etc … but please don’t promote the view that a black pencil ‘campaign idea’ is simply one that has never been done before, because if we do that, what the hell are we promoting to the next generation of folk entering the business, let alone the next generation of client we will be dealing with.

Awards are important. They promote and push ingenious thinking and craftsmanship and we need a hell of a lot more of that, but for an industry that talks about appreciating how everything matters, maybe we need to take a bit more of our own advice.


33 Comments so far
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It is incredibly heartening to read a respected advertising individual call out issues like this.

It is also disappointing to hear a well respected advertising individual dismiss the need for effectiveness so readily.

I agree with everything you say in this post Robert. Everything. I hope more people take note or they may find their clients have moved on and left them far behind.

Comment by Lee Hill

respected? are you having a fucking laugh?

Comment by andy@cynic

unless you mean members of community care. nottingham division.

Comment by andy@cynic

What Lee said.

Comment by Rob Mortimer (Not a fake Andy)

Good subject for a post.

Comment by John

Well you would say that wouldn’t you Mr Dodds, you were the one that brought my attention to the clip.

Though scarily, we both found the Droga comment disturbing independently. That might mean we both think in similar ways. That’s good news for Birkenstock shares and bad news for the Police hotline department.

Comment by Rob

I would like to take you task about one thing. You did not need to clarify that you are against a risk free, creative development process. The fact you did highlights how many small minded individuals reside in the corners of your industry.

This is an excellent post for all, except maybe David Droga.

Comment by Lee Hill

I am hoping this video shows the David Droga comment out of context because I like him and his agency very much and I know Rob does too. Still, on face value, it’s a pretty bad thing to be seen on camera saying.

Comment by Pete

I love Droga5 …

Apart from having many good friends there, they have been behind some fantastic ideas and campaigns over the past few years. That doesn’t mean I have to agree with everything they say … and while this clip may [hopefully] have been taken out of context, it’s still the sort of thing that sets our industry back in the importance of the boardroom.

Comment by Rob

Point taken. Thank you.

Comment by Rob

In my limited exposure to award judging, I would say the situation highlighted in this video is not an isolated incident. With that in mind, I would assume your recent judging escapade in Korea was met with equal levels of frustration.
What disappoints me is that when this situation is called out, the person questioning the process is met with the response, “you’re a planner” as if only they have to be mindful of effectiveness responsibility.
For an industry fighting for its credibility and value, this attitude, especially when judging a campaign idea, is very interesting. Some may even say brave, though many others will prefer to define it as stupid.
An excellent and very important post Robert.

Comment by George

Great points George, especially the “you’re a planner”. Experienced that personally.

Comment by Pete

Yes I did face that frustration in Korea and yes, someone did say “You’re a planner” to try and undermine my calls for effectiveness to be included in the ‘grand prize’ winning decision.

I was mature in my response though, stating that because he was a creative based in Dubai – a land that had recently experienced what happens when you never consider the implications of your actions – his comment had basically explained to me why the ad industry wasn’t trusted, respected or liked by business or society as a whole.

Comment by Rob

theyre not saying “youre a planner” in a nasty way, theyre saying “youre a planner” in the same way people clap at some disabled kid who manages to finish the school sports day 100m race even though every other kid finished, showered and went home hours ago.

Comment by andy@cynic

Your political correctness is shining through I see.

Comment by Rob

Bang goes your job at droga.

Comment by Billy Whizz

They were smarter to do that before I wrote this post.

Comment by Rob

No need to get so upset about it Rob, no one worth anything cares about advertising awards.

Comment by DH

That’s not quite true and as I wrote in the post, I’m glad for that. While some people chase awards to get a better job or to try and get famous, there is a bigger value and meaning to awards [well, some awards] and that is to keep pushing and promoting forward thinking … something we should always be striving for as long as there is a genuine and defined benefit for the clients we’re doing it on behalf of..

Comment by Rob

I don’t know if I agree that only the “best idea” category should have effectiveness baked into the evaluation criteria, I think there are a lot more that need that.

But at the very least, a category that claims to celebrate the best of the best should definitely include it in its overall criteria.

Great read.

Comment by Pete

Fair point. All I am saying is that I am fine with some categories being recognised for their craft or ingenuity etc … but when it comes to the overall ‘best idea’ of the awards, I believe it needs to have the campaigns effectiveness baked into the judging criteria because otherwise, it makes a mockery of the word ‘best’.

Comment by Rob

Saw this yesterday. People might find it interesting given the topic of todays post.

Comment by Rob

theyre some great people in that video. and a lot of twats.

Comment by andy@cynic

All good points, and it’s no wonder the word ‘effectiveness’ is a little dirty with the dizzying post rationalisation in IPA Awards.
Somehow, using precise econometrics to prove a sales effect seems like trying a little hard.
Planning gives itself a bad name with stuff like the APG awards too though, I really like some of the case studies in there, but it seems a little odd when they’re judges on the role of planning producing fresh, original game changing creative work WITHIN the ad industry, as opposed to within business, or at least the minds of real people. It almost seems to say to planners ‘become a shrill for the work’.
Some awards thingy needs to be a mixture of both – prove a business effect that doesn’t require complex maths, and show what groundbreaking thinking was required to achieve it.
As opposed to:
Either spend hours and lots of money proving it was worth spending any money in the first place
Or, fuck results, just look as clever as possible

Comment by northern

If it takes weeks of intensive and investigative work to prove it has been effective, it has not been effective. Another annoyance is when an agency takes all the credit for a campaigns effectiveness, choosing to conveniently ignore all the other additional, vital factors that contribute to the end result.

Comment by George

Great points.

Comment by Pete

so youre fucking admitting its all planners fault. about fucking time too.

Comment by andy@cynic

I think I may have missed something here. Remind me, what, exactly, is the point of advertising?

Hello again.

Comment by Marcus

Keeping Rob off the streets.

Comment by DH

And out of the western world.

Comment by DH

Getting stuff noticed by people who couldn’t care less.
What’s the point of social media? Please don’t say loyalty or community building, please

Comment by northern

To let us take the piss out of 18 year olds who think they’re important.

Comment by Billy Whizz

I read a story about one ad where they aired a version with smaller branding because if they entered it to D&ad/Cannes with a very visible logo they would have marked it down.

That for me, is everything that is wrong with creative judging in the context you raised.

So a good idea and execution with brilliant production and direction can miss an award because it wants people to see the brand when they show the product?

Creativity is vital, but no creative campaign will survive if it isn’t effective; so why exclude it from the judging of the creativity.

I still think there should be a ‘Real Advertising Awards’, with categories like “Best use of terrible guidelines”, “Best ad from incomprehensible brief”, “Bravest client”, “Most improved brand” and so on.

Comment by Rob Mortimer (Not a fake Andy)

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