The value of advertising

We've been doing a lot of counting lately. Which leads to recounting. And so on.

We’ve been doing a lot of counting lately. Which leads to recounting. And so on.

As you no doubt gathered from our cover, Rethink kept coming out on top in this year’s Creative Report Card. Since their sick stuffies effort earned Playland ‘award-winningest Canadian advertiser’ status in our tally of local, national and international shows, the Muppet-esque versions of Chris and Ian seemed apropos. And we thought you all needed a little levity to go with the economic doom and gloom.

That said, the Creative Report Card is more than an entertaining accounting of who snagged the most awards. Sure, you can see who’s consistently pleasing juries at home and abroad, which has its own value, but for many of the brands there are substantial payoffs.

The Playland advertising consistently captures the attention of the hotdog-swilling thrill-seekers who frequent the park – resulting in wallets in the midway. And the acclaim sparked the creation of a broader awards committee, which in turn has led to best practices wins in other areas. Rethink also reports that many of its advertisers have seen improved results. While it’s simplistic to say that winning makes you a winner, it seems to set the stage for the right mindset.

And mindset is both imperilled and important right now. As our roundtable pundits share their Dos and Don’ts on marketing through the recession (see Biz, p. 10), one issue identified as key is a world-beating mindset. It’s like when driving instructors tell you not to stare at impending collison targets when you’re spinning out of control, but to focus instead on steering where you want the vehicle to go. Good advice, hard to put into practice.

Even if you get yourself and your team to the point of seeing opportunities rather than crisis management, there are others to convince. So for a more CFO-friendly take on the value of advertising, I suggest you absorb the learning and share the results of the CASSIES, Canada’s effectiveness-based advertising awards (visit The cases have all been boiled down from their original, intensely detailed form to a handy digest size by CASSIES editor David Rutherford, so it’s a painless exercise.

A group of senior, very knowledgeable benchmarkers first read all the entries to see which truly had standout impact, then debated various category and market considerations to ensure that it was indubitably the advertising that contributed to the brands’ improved results. Next, an equally erudite cross-Canada, cross-discipline jury scored the cases that made the cut. Those that won are truly the poster children for the value of advertising.

While it was a month for numbers – including all the juicy stats promoted during Ad Week (advertising generates $24 billion for the Canadian economy) – some aspects of the value of advertising are harder to quantify. Like meaning, and advertising’s place in culture.

Mike Farrell’s Statsthought this issue (p. 26) puts some numbers to that equation, and finds that one in five youth actually enjoys ads, with one in four seeking out and passing on their faves. Not too shabby.

As for the meaning piece – a.k.a. values – we’re witnessing more significant social programs, innovative arts support and green leadership coming out of marketing departments. And while the impact is not so easy to see in short-term results, brands know that when they’re appealing to consumers’ values, they’re adding value.

And on that topic, a final awards mention. We’re currently accepting submissions for strategy‘s Cause + Action awards, for ‘Brand Plans that are Changing Minds. And Matter.’ If you’ve been involved in any CSR, eco, fundraising or other good brand deeds, please be in touch; we’d like to share your successes with our readers. cheers, mm

Mary Maddever, exec editor, strategy, Media in Canada and stimulant

P.S. Despite our best efforts, no doubt someone somewhere will get a different CRC tally. We apologize in advance, and suggest you ensure you are credited on future award show submissions, as they are our source material.