Awards are important for creative agencies and it is evident from the increasing number of entries to various awards year after year. But how important are awards for marketers and brands?
Akansha Mihir Mota | Mumbai | December 28, 2016
We all love good parties, music and drinks at the creative awards. Most importantly, award events are a ground for agencies to earn fame, glory and form a recruiting ground. The number of marketers flocking to these advertising awards has also increased. In this era of data and technology, where much of the marketers’ time is spent trying to justify the value of marketing at boardroom level, how important are the creative awards for them?
An award by any measure is a sign of excellence – an acknowledgment that peers and professionals alike agree that a certain brand or company excels in what they do. The awards season has just begun. Advertising awards have been most tangible evidence of excellence for ad agencies. On the flip side, one question that arises is how much are brands interested in these awards because at the end what matters to them is the metrics growth of the company.
A few say it is a matter of pride for a brand to be awarded for their campaigns, while others say it doesn’t matter to them, but they acknowledge these awards as they motivate their agencies. Agencies believe that their business increases when they win awards.
BestMediaInfo caught up with creative agencies and brand experts to know the importance or relevance of awards to clients and agencies.
The agency perspective
Ashish Bhasin, Chairman and CEO, South Asia, Dentsu Aegis Network, Chairman, Posterscope and psLive Asia Pacific, ?Aegis Group plc:
I think to an extent these awards matter to the clients because it indicates and reinforces to them how their agency is doing. As a client, what they are most interested in is if they are getting effective advertising that is selling their brands. I don’t think it is imperative. It’s a nice feeling for brands to know that their brands are doing well. But their first interest is that the brand is built.
Piyush Pandey, Executive Chairman and National Creative Director,
Ogilvy & Mather India and South Asia:
If the award is meaningful and has done for the brand, the client also feels great. If the objective (sales) of the client is met, they are as happy as the agency for the awards.
KV Sridhar, Founder, Hyper Collective:
There are two types of approaches. One is to create work for awards that will build the agency’s reputation. I don’t know whether that is positive or negative. If the real work for the clients wins these awards then the clients celebrate such awards and they really value that. The only thing the clients don’t subscribe to are the scam ads. However, to keep the agency motivated, the clients will give permission to the agency, but not go overboard to celebrate it. That is the reason clients celebrate Effies more than the creative awards. Clients don’t mind getting recognition after their objective is met. At the same time, clients also understand that creative awards are R&D for the creative agencies. So, they will let the agencies do whatever they want to do. At times clients put some money behind that also and to encourage creativity in the creative organisation. But it is not very important for them. Creative awards were started to take great pride in something new and for the work that sets standard in the agencies. Somewhere down the line, awards have become corporatized. Now, the agencies want awards, not the individual creative people. More than individual people, their agency networks want to be called No. 1. or dominate. Therefore, there are other agendas also for winning the awards.
Amer Jaleel, Chairman and CCO, Mullen Lintas:
For the last 10 years we have only been participating in effectiveness awards. In last five years, more and more agencies have realised the importance of effectiveness awards and their participation has increased. If you look at it from the client's point of view, for many decades, clients have been crying hoarse over the fact that many agencies participate only in the creative awards or they pay a lot of importance to creative awards. Many times there have been various types of initiatives from the agencies, where the work has been created only for the awards and those work pieces are very clever, emotional and people call them very creative work. That is why clients find it a need to participate in awards that are judged on the basis of not just creativity and also how they have performed. Effies meet that criteria and clients are equally excited about it.
Dhunji S Wadia, President, Rediffusion Y&R and Everest Brand Solutions:
One of the greatest dangers of advertising is not that of misleading people, but boring them to death. Awards are a great way to prove that the work makes people pay attention – which is a very important part of our business. If the work doesn’t get noticed, then we are not doing our job. Increasingly clients are seeking recognition and we are seeing many marketing people attending global award forums like Cannes Lions. 10 years ago this festival was considered the place for creatives and advertising agencies. Then two of the biggest advertisers in the world, Unilever and Procter and Gamble, started attending. And soon many more clients started attending. Today roughly 25 per cent of delegates are from client companies. They are seeking insights into landmark campaigns and trends that are transforming the communications landscape. Consumer engagement is a key part of marketing and should be a marketing professional’s day job. Creativity has become a business-critical power today. Great work increases return on investment and is also linked to market share growth. In short, great ideas drive business success.
Santosh Padhi, Chief Creative Director and Co-Founder, Dentsu Taproot:
For past five years, one can see more clients attending Cannes like never before. Clients want recognition and it’s a free PR for a great piece of work. Five to eight years back, awards and regular brand work were two different things. Now it is blended so much into each other, we really cannot make out which is award work and which is brand work. Also, the jury has become smart enough to smell a stinking piece from a distance. Real brand works are getting rewarded.
Awards are not very important as a judgement metric
Nadia Chauhan, JMD and CMO, Parle Agro:
As a brand/client I’d say we are quite indifferent towards awards. Of course it’s great recognition for young creative talent, but awards are perhaps our last criteria of evaluating an agency. We encourage our creative partners to make disruptive, unique and bold campaigns that catch more eyeballs and have more people talking about them. Campaigns that help achieve the overall brand's goals for that period. We work with a boutique creative firm based out of New York called Sagmeister & Walsh, which specialises in design. It has been handling all our creative duties across brands for the last two years. The partners at Sagmeister & Walsh and I work closely together to outdo each year’s campaign and focus on creating disruptive visual communication, which can keep building greater top-of-the-mind and high recall for our brands.
Sumeet Narang, Vice-President, Marketing, Bajaj Auto:
It is very encouraging when a campaign wins awards. We take a leap of faith in doing an innovative campaign that wins awards. While developing a mega campaign, the agencies work really hard. I think it is a good reward for their efforts. The teams get a chance to rejoice for their good work. Therefore, these awards hold some value even for the marketers or clients. But the reality is that an advertising agency is in the business of selling campaigns whereas a marketer is in the business of selling a product. Therefore, from an advertising agency’s point of view, some of these legitimate awards are given the reward for their product. However, from a marketers point of view, the reward is only when you see growth in your business and market share. If something gets awarded and there is no improvement in the market share then obviously it doesn’t bring in 100 per cent delight. There needs to be a business growth for you to be equally delighted for winning the campaign.
Ajay Kakar, Chief Marketing Officer, Aditya Birla Group, Financial Services:
For me, creativity awards are a means but definitely not an end. As long as creativity results in effectiveness, it matters to the clients. Otherwise, creativity for the sake of creativity is an indulgence and a way to encourage your agency. But truly clients celebrate effectiveness in the market place. We encourage awards because we need to keep this in mind that we cannot create brands without agency partners and creativity is their passion and excitement.
Creativity and effectiveness are not two different vectors for us. We call it ‘relevant creativity’ and it is strategically impeccable, drives strong emotion and is shareworthy. Hence, the intent of all the content that we make for the purpose of marketing is to attract, engage and persuade our consumers and drive action, i.e., positively impact brand metrics and sales. They are the results that we strive for as an organisation. Awards, however, are a validation of good work done and are a great source of motivation for our teams and agencies alike. The comeback campaign on Maggi last year won one Gold and two Silver in this year’s Effies. Nescafe has also been a consistent winner at the Effies over the last three years.”