Filed under: Comment
So for the next few days I’m in Singapore judging the Asian Effectiveness Awards.
While some of the thinking, work and results are fantastic – I am semi-alarmed at how badly some people articulate their argument.
It appears the approach taken by the agencies submitting the poor entries is “talk and talk and talk and hopefully they will be able to work it out themselves”.
And to those people I tell them this.
Yes. Yes we can. And we have worked out you don’t understand what effective communication is, let alone what commercial effectiveness is.
The good news is the overall standard of submission has vastly improved and there are some genuinely smart, creative and crafted ideas on show, however what is slightly concerning is how many brands want to be a social crusader … fighting against issues that are apparently affecting millions of people.
This might seem a strange thing for me to say given I spent years talking about how brands have the power to help society while helping themselves … especially as I got so into this theory that I even gave the approach a name ‘socialistic capitalism’ … however the way many brands are approaching the task feels like they are more focused on creating the illusion of helping others than actually helping others.
You can generally tell who they are.
+ They spend so much money telling people what they’re doing, you feel their motivation is marketing rather than helping.
+ They do a hugely exploitative campaign and try and back-rationalise it’s ‘social value’.
+ They take on issues that make them look hypocritical.
+ They take on such themes [loosely connected to their product category] that are so ambiguous, you wouldn’t be able to tell if they’ve had an effect or not.
Look, I know it’s shit for me to question this approach, because like those people who slagged off Madonna when she got preferential treatment to adopt a child [errrrm, me], the fact is they’re still helping in some way which is something worth celebrating … and cynicism aside, I still think it is amazing when a brand decides to use its muscle to try and make a difference beyond just their balance sheet … however with so many brands seemingly only focused on ‘raising awareness’ for an issue rather than trying to solve it, it’s quite refreshing when someone comes along and does a good old fashioned, straight-to-the-point ad campaign, which is why I liked last years TBWA HK campaign for AIA Insurance.
[Though I obviously hated the newspaper ad they did that I link to above]
I suppose what I’m saying is that it’s great so many brands want to try and make a difference and it’s great they believe they’re making such a difference, they can enter it into an effectiveness award … however I’d be interested to see how many of them stay committed to their cause when they realize their ability to stand out as a brand is becoming diminished given so many other brands are basically following the exact same strategy.
At the end of the day, there is a significant difference between being ‘interested’ in a cause and being ‘committed’ to it and while I do not want anyone to mistake what I’m saying as an attack on anyone who is trying to make a difference, I do think we should be challenging them to evaluate their ‘effectiveness’ beyond just a rise in awareness, likes or sales.
[Acknowledging it is very important they feel their activity is making them money, because that ensures they’ll keep doing it]
God I’m going on aren’t I?
If it’s any consolation, you’re not going to be stuck in a judging room with me banging on about this issue for the next 8 hours.
There’s some more good news for you.
No more posts till Thursday. [But it’s a corker, even though I say it myself]
I’m all give, give, give.
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