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Effectiveness is the new black

I had the honor of taking part in the final round judging of the Effies last week, and one thing that struck me was the number of senior people that made up the judging panel. I saw agency heads, I saw CMO’s, I saw Chief Strategy Officers, I saw top people from industry trade organizations. All these heavy hitters taking time off from their busy schedule to make sure that the right work received the awards. As my judging group hashed the winners out, it was heartening to see how much immediate consensus there was on what constituted a good case and what was suspect. Vague results were met with skepticism. Causation was constantly brought into question. Whether or not a campaign even belonged in a particular category led to more than one extensive discussion. If my group was any indicator of the quality of discourse across the judging, this year’s winners will truly represent the best cases as judged by a panel of experts.

The fact that we were all willingly there to take part in effectiveness judging speaks volumes about the importance of results (and ROI) to both agencies and marketers today. This didn’t always appear to be the case. Back when I started in the business, the awards shows that agencies cared about were the One Show and the D&AD, which are amazing showcases for creativity, but are not judged on their effectiveness. Some time after, Cannes became something worth entering (very possibly because it was so worth attending), but things like the Effies and the Clios always lurked in the periphery as second tier awards (at least in the minds of agency folk).

While creative awards were and are coveted by agencies, I’ve seen countless clients glaze over whenever they are presented with an awards tally during a credentials meeting. You get the sense that they see awards as an indicator that the agency doesn’t care about results or when it comes time to work with them, they’re going to be artsy prima-donnas. The Effies, on the other hand, hold a unique place in the awards eco-system — they straddle the worlds of creativity and results, which makes them much more tangible to clients. They want to win them too; and that is why the Effies have become the award to win. It’s a true benchmark of success for the entire industry. Given all of this, one might expect that the big winners at the Effies would differ greatly from the big winners at the other non-results driven shows. Guess what — they don’t. — a quick scan of the Effie winners list from the past few years features many of the exact same campaigns that won big in all the other shows. Maybe better ideas DO drive better results, agencies just needed the Effies to prove it.

Effectiveness is the new black