Effectiveness Tables

How effective is creativity really?

There’s a link between effectiveness and awarded creativity, but it’s not always strong

IF CREATIVE advertising works for a brand, then surely Apex effectiveness award-winning ads should also win creative awards. Do they? A dispassionate look at this year’s Apexes shows a correlation between the two kinds of awards, but it is not absolute. Of the nine Apex winners last week, seven (78%) were also recipients this year of various creative awards – but not always in proportion.

For example, KingJames’ much-lauded campaign for Santam starring Ben Kingsley and several look-alikes picked up a Loerie Gold, a One Show Silver and a Clio Silver last year, but it had to be satisfied with a Bronze Apex.

Or give a thought to Carling Black Label’s “Be the coach” campaign. It was South Africa’s most-awarded global marketing campaign over the last two years, with triumphs including 25 international awards and  a Grand Prix and six Golds at last year’s Loeries. But the Apex judges thought it was worth only a measly Silver.

The Apex are regarded in SA as one of the most important awards platforms, but like other effectiveness awards (such as the IPA awards in the UK, or the Effies in America), they never attract the same volume of entries as the creative events. Not even close. Last year, for example, there were 2 744 professional entries for the Loeries compared with 50 for Apex.

“An Apex entry requires significant extra effort,” says Apex jury chairman Andy Rice. “With Loeries, for example, you’ve done the hard work already. All you have to do is fill in an entry form and you’re in. But an effectiveness award requires you to produce a case study, showing how the campaign  has influenced sales, arguing the case and producing evidence to prove the point. You have to track performance over anything from six months to a year. All of this requires a lot more effort and diligence.

“What we found this year is that if entrants don’t take the trouble to understand the issues, their entries lack relevance and sharpness. We ran workshops on how to prepare an entry, but these were very poorly attended.”

This is a low-volume, high-value award system. If we get 80 entries we are very happy. If you don‘t have a strong case, and don’t put the effort trying to prove what you can’t prove.”

There are also clients who won’t approve an entry because it gives away marketing secrets to their competitors. Ogilvy Johannesburg CEO Julian Ribeiro says there is no good reason for this reluctance  because results can be provided in confidence, and  can be indexed. But this doesn’t protect a unique idea from being copied. Rice concedes that there may very well be better cases out there that have never been entered.

But he also points out that the time factor in building a case study means that most entries are probably  at least two years old by the time they are entered. After an interval that long, when ideas have long been copied and marketing conditions may have changed to the point where the original idea no longer has validity, there is probably little to gain by copying a competitor’s campaign.

Joe Public was the top agency at Apex, benefiting from the 14 points (equal to a silver) we awarded for the special prize for a non-profit client. But Ogilvy Johannesburg’s points came from three commercial clients.

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