Bored witless

wagner.jpg
Wagner’s Ring Cycle (Der Ring des Nibelungen) – considerably less likely to induce boredom than this years IPA effectiveness shortlist.
How ironic. Just as we were wrapping up our discussion about the efficacy of the Honda ‘Power of Dreams’ idea the IPA announces their shortlist for this year’s effectiveness awards.
As awards shortlists go it is as thrilling and exciting a compendium of advertising achievement as it is possible to muster and I can’t wait to read each and every one of these powerful case studies.
In opposite land!
Reading the shortlist on the IPA website made me so catatonically bored I actually began to gnaw my own legs off. Sure there are a few cases that raise more than a flicker of interest like Travelocity, Virgin Trains and Jamie’s School Dinners, but on the whole the list is padded out with such fascinating forays into the world of advertising communications as Branston Baked Beans, Manchester City and Monopoly (the game).
I think the issue here is who cares? Beyond the client and agency involved in the project, who actually gives a damn whether Bakers Complete dog food has used advertising successfully or not? I don’t, I’m very happy for them but I’m just not that interested.
And this goes to the heart of why the IPA effectiveness awards have failed in their primary objective. They tell us that sometimes some advertising works but not that advertising is a powerful business tool full stop.
I saw conclusive proof of this two years ago when the incoming CEO of BSkyB, James Murdoch, announced to the city that he was massively increasing his marketing expenditure and 20% of the Sky’s market capitalisation was wiped out overnight. Clearly those spiffy hardback books proclaiming that ’advertising works’ are not required reading amongst the financial community of this country. As I am fond of saying the IPA effectiveness awards wouldn’t win an award for effectiveness.
In reality the problem is the way that all awards work.
You only get to judge the work that is entered rather than the work you want judge and award. The IPA is dependent of whether anyone can find a case study they can stand up and can be bothered to spend the inordinate amounts of time and money writing an entry. Hence you end up with a list of odds and sods with a few gems rather than conclusive proof that business should place its faith in the advertising discipline.
It would be far better that the IPA conducts an annual audit of the biggest spenders and most famous campaigns. It is the success or otherwise of this work that would help make the case for advertising to the people that control the purse strings.
In the meantime I for one remain arse numbingly bored.


How ironic. Just as we were wrapping up our discussion about the efficacy of the Honda ‘Power of Dreams’ idea the IPA announces their shortlist for this year’s effectiveness awards.
As awards shortlists go it is as thrilling and exciting a compendium of advertising achievement as it is possible to muster and I can’t wait to read each and every one of these powerful case studies.
In opposite land!
Reading the shortlist on the IPA website made me so catatonically bored I actually began to gnaw my own legs off. Sure there are a few cases that raise more than a flicker of interest like Travelocity, Virgin Trains and Jamie’s School Dinners, but on the whole the list is padded out with such fascinating forays into the world of advertising communications as Branston Baked Beans, Manchester City and Monopoly (the game).
I think the issue here is who cares? Beyond the client and agency involved in the project, who actually gives a damn whether Bakers Complete dog food has used advertising successfully or not? I don’t, I’m very happy for them but I’m just not that interested.
And this goes to the heart of why the IPA effectiveness awards have failed in their primary objective. They tell us that sometimes some advertising works but not that advertising is a powerful business tool full stop.
I saw conclusive proof of this two years ago when the incoming CEO of BSkyB, James Murdoch, announced to the city that he was massively increasing his marketing expenditure and 20% of the Sky’s market capitalisation was wiped out overnight. Clearly those spiffy hardback books proclaiming that ’advertising works’ are not required reading amongst the financial community of this country. As I am fond of saying the IPA effectiveness awards wouldn’t win an award for effectiveness.
In reality the problem is the way that all awards work.
You only get to judge the work that is entered rather than the work you want judge and award. The IPA is dependent of whether anyone can find a case study they can stand up and can be bothered to spend the inordinate amounts of time and money writing an entry. Hence you end up with a list of odds and sods with a few gems rather than conclusive proof that business should place its faith in the advertising discipline.
It would be far better that the IPA conducts an annual audit of the biggest spenders and most famous campaigns. It is the success or otherwise of this work that would help make the case for advertising to the people that control the purse strings.
In the meantime I for one remain arse numbingly bored.

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14 Replies to “Bored witless”

  1. I like the sound of the Dero case; the local hero is a great story – bit like Inca Cola beating Coke in South America
    (but BBH are so fiendishly clever at writing these papers that only they could make an ad which at the time happened to feature local actors into a nationalist revival movement case)
    Jamie’s school dinners will probably win (I hope)
    On the other hand O2 has definitely been a HUGE success; the dificulty would be separating the (dull, corporate IMHO) ads from their scintillating rewards and events programme
    In terms of mind-rotting banality… this is a peach:
    “This paper explains how effective TV advertising can be; here it got mouths watering, feet tapping and people incessantly humming a tune lodged in their minds while they went about their lives. Images of Manhattan at dawn got people dreaming and the sheer pleasure in all this subtly lifted their mood long after they turned off their TV. The result was a new set of positive emotions and associations around Tropicana, that resulted in the reversal of share decline, people happy to pay more for their orange juice ”

  2. Very interested in reading the Jamie’s school dinners case – but I think he deserves more than an IPA award.
    Slightly concerned from the synposis that the case tries to ascribe the success of the Jamie movement to the advertising. OK advertising (though of little relevance to the actual content) – brilliant programming idea.
    We wait with almost baited breath.
    I rather like the idea of us all prejudging the work before the IPA effectiveness judges announce the results of their deliberations. Cos the Insitute ain’t gonna let us on their site.
    Bit like the alternative Turner Prize.
    Anyone up for a prize for most banal synopsis?

  3. If only the IPA awards judged themselves by the same standards they would be so different.
    Advertising and design both NEED proper awards that are not “pay to enter” internal affairs; that judge work on every single merit, and produce results that are genuinely respected and wanted.
    Id love to start that project, I fear that too many agencies would disaprove when their boring campaigns are not winners. Still, if anyone else likes the sound…

  4. Richard
    As you say in your post, I am not sure an awards show is ever going to give you the massive proof you want. Have you ever read Ehrenberg’s series on “Justifying Our Advertising Budgets?” It may not be the kind of proof you want (though it is very post-brand image in it’s findings), but he has a very “complete” body of evidence.
    As for changing the award shows, how about there be one criteria for success: did it get people more interested in the brand/service and did they want to be bothered spending more time on it.

  5. Isn’t the problem that the IPA Effectiveness Awards seek to demonstrate that advertising is an effective business tool through a process of inductive logic (i.e. from the particular to the general) and not deductive logic.
    It think it was David Hume some 300 years ago who pointed out that this form of logic doesn’t work – as your Sky example so amply demonstrates. However well Bakers Complete Dog Food’s advertising does for them, it is no evidence whatsoever that Murdoch’s investment will deliver a return (although of course we know it will Richard ;-))

  6. Well if I’m honest Dave you first put me onto this arguement a decade ago – possibly in your paper on the economic value of brands and brand advertsing which I have just ripped off again in my most recent post.
    Your clarity about brands and communications is still infectious

  7. the shortlist is stunning evidence of an award system that has become strategicly bankrupt.
    Advertising Effectiveness was proven ages ago, and now it’s just a case of how big the ROI is. Someone here had the lovely drinking analogy that the IPA is about ‘How drunk you got… not how good the experience was’.
    Wish I’d thought of that.
    Do Sainsbury’s deserve an advertising effectiveness award for surfing the school-dinners wave? Personally I think not, despite the fact they were using the naked chev before the program (different strategy that wasn’t working, hence the pitch).

  8. Quite so Jemster.
    In fairness it is the advertising for the programme and not the supermarket that has been shortlisted. I think that makes for a far more intersting case. That said the work for JSD inhindsight looks like the planner and creative team never bothered to watch the show before writing the ads

  9. My mistake.
    A more legitimate case maybe, interesting I’m not so sure about.
    I’m sure you’re right about the planner and creative team at AMV… but it may just be that they wouldn’t be allowed to refer to the programme without paying a hefty whack to the production company etc. much as I hate to give them a bolthole.

  10. Oh Jemster,
    I think the creative agency was four creative and the paper has been entered by M&B. And any one working in broadcast would have preview tapes in order to get them into the programme pre transmission – especially on a series shot over such a long period of time.

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