ROI

Need to know if that classy, sassy ad you dropped 200 Gs on actually resulted in a sale? Join the club. This is also creating problems for agencies as clients rush pell-mell to demand more research and return on investment. But is branding losing out in the process? And who says a classy, sassy ad can't work anyway? Ogilvy's Nancy Vonk makes some demands of her own - for sanity.

Need to know if that classy, sassy ad you dropped 200 Gs on actually resulted in a sale? Join the club. This is also creating problems for agencies as clients rush pell-mell to demand more research and return on investment. But is branding losing out in the process? And who says a classy, sassy ad can’t work anyway? Ogilvy’s Nancy Vonk makes some demands of her own – for sanity.

The ad world changed forever after 9/11. As many of our clients shifted into survival mode, ad budgets were slashed and trust evaporated. Three years on, fear is still driving the bus as advertising is scrutinized for any trace of ‘risk.’ Many clients who are smart and brave seem to have an invisible axe hanging over their heads as they agonize over their agency’s creative solutions. No room for error, better not get too creative. Results need to be guaranteed.

The problem, of course, is there’s no such thing. Any respectable researcher is careful to state they can’t, in fact, promise test results will translate into sales results, but numbers continue to work as a security blanket. The result is ‘safe’ work that is so often in that dangerous, ignored place: the middle of the road.

What to do before powerful brand-building advertising is extinct and powerful brands erode? The Gunn Report offers a different way toward getting work that works. This respected U.K. study proves that year after year the most awarded work meets or exceeds expectations about 85% of the time. Many agencies know about this report but not so many clients.

So let’s all do this: Sit down with our clients and watch the Gunn Report reel and note how it’s loaded with ‘risky’ ideas that would have bombed in testing. Then talk about the qualities Donald Gunn says we should all be studying, like being single-minded, well crafted and insightful. Like serving up a perspective not seen before.

That means going to places that research often doesn’t have the tools to measure. That means having a new goal – to do effective, award-winning work. In the process, we might all discover how to love this business again.

Nancy Vonk is chief creative officer at Ogilvy & Mather Toronto and has been with the agency since 1988. Among her successes were a string of international awards in 1997 for a Timex campaign for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Along with Janet Kestin, also chief creative officer, Vonk is co-author of the forthcoming Pick Me: Breaking Into Advertising and Staying There, to be published by Adweek Books in spring 2005.

Who’s getting it right?

Budweiser and Downtown Partners. Says Vonk, ‘[Downtown Partners] does not put work through the research grinder. They rely very heavily on their own gut reactions. [Budweiser] has the freshest beer advertising going as a result of not trying to please everyone.’