Effective awards

Some awards do matter. Here's why...

It took 58 years, but Cannes has decided advertising effectiveness deserves recognition, and so Creative Effectiveness Lions will be doled out for the first time at the 2011 edition of the adfest.

They’re looking for “creativity that affects consumer behaviour, brand equity, sales, and where identifiable, profit.” Eligibility is limited to last year’s shortlisted entries and winners and will be scored on strategy (25%), idea (25%) and results (50%). So it’s official: even the grand dame of ad shows has decreed ROI a podium-worthy attribute. It will be interesting to see who is asked to judge.

In Canada – a market where budgets are smaller and have always had more scrutiny – we’ve been keen on ad ROI a tad longer. The CASSIES have been around since 1993 and are sort of the flip side of what Cannes is doing. Rigorous cases form the backbone, and while creativity is considered in the judging round, making the cut comes down to proving results are tied to advertising. The CASSIES’ ROI-led nature makes them matter more both agency- and brand-side, creatively expressed this year by Ogilvy’s cheeky “No Dogwalker” campaign. This client POV is no doubt the Creative Effectiveness impetus for Cannes, and time will soon tell if this creatively-filtered approach proves an effective showcase of Lions ROI love.

Our B!G awards were actually developed in response to “Dogwalker” backlash, back when the marketing side of our readership complained that too many ad shows put a spotlight on work that does nothing to move the business, and was therefore meaningless to the industry. This sentiment has simmered for ages, but five years ago we saw an opportunity to counteract it by creating a showcase for the most important work agencies were doing for their biggest clients, and at the same time, explore broader beyond-advertising skill sets and practices many had developed.

Strategy’s Agency of the Year is somewhere in between the CASSIES and Cannes approach. Adjudication is based on cases, scored equally for both the strategic and creative thinking that took teams from challenge to insight, idea, execution and, finally, results. To win, AOYs have to do it all and do it consistently across multiple brands. “All” definitely includes being effective.

Read the digest versions of the winners’ cases to see the scope and depth of Canada’s top shops; smart insights, original ideas – and payoffs. This year’s AOY Gold was won by DDB, and each campaign contributed to over-achieving on desired results. Take our celebratory cover condiment as an example: during Q1 2010 Salty drove Knorr’s Sidekicks to its highest dollar volume in three years, overtaking Uncle Ben’s as number one.

The effectiveness of the programs helmed by our Gold media agency winner PHD included increasing calls to Suicide Action Montreal by 35% (each representing a saved life), via a creative media idea that grew visibility 20 times over budget, and its work on the Becel “Love your Heart” program contributed to a 35% share increase over the past three years.

Taxi took Silver AOY and two B!G awards – Gold for Bombardier’s Olympic torch, which lit up its PR standing here at home, and Bronze for its Canadian Tire coins, which achieved an ROI of over 175%.

The kind of effort that goes into programs like the TD comfy green chair integrations done by Silver MAOY Starcom – content deals with shows like Idol, Lost, Dancing with the Stars and Desperate Housewives – are perfect examples of what it takes to win: new ideas, new heights of collaboration, true partnership and perseverance.

It strikes me that awards that do not acknowledge effectiveness as well as creativity in advertising, if not entirely pointless, are missing the point. Celebrate what works. As getting attention in the mediascape and at retail gets harder, increasingly, creativity is key to achieving that.

Congrats to all our winners and to everyone who participated, and thanks to all those who took the time to help with the shortlist polling and judging this year.

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