Monday, January 29, 2007

The Argument That Won't Stay Dead

A witty and passionate marketer by the name of Vando, who is based in Sydney Australia, picks up on last week's poll, which showed that 82% of readers of this blog would rather do the ad of the year than double their client's sales.

He is cross.

He feels it confirms a post of his entitled Do Agencies Give A Shit?

This debate is like one of the zombies in Dawn Of The Dead which was on TV here last night. You think it's dead, but it comes back to bite you.

It seems some clients still don't believe there's a correlation between creativity and effectiveness.

What to do?

In the words of Ving Rhames - "You've got to go for the head."

Okay, so he was talking about despatching zombies. In our context, it means proving to clients, over and over again if necessary, by means of solid, reasoned argument, that great ads work better than average ads.

If anyone has a link to a suitable article or research paper, do please post it up.


Anonymous said...

The trouble with being a creative is, we're not judged on how effective we are but on how creative we are. We've all seen the team get stuck on uncreative but big money accounts, make really effective ads, keep client happy and when the new CD starts get fired because all they've produced over the last two years is 'shit'. So to the people who look at that Friday poll and think that creatives are indulgent, well, we have to be - or the mortgage doesn't get paid.

Scamp said...

Good point.

And you know what? I think a good client shouldn't want creatives to care about effectiveness.

A car driver doesn't want an engine to worry about steering, does he? No. That's the steering wheel's job. We all got a different focus but the whole works better that way.

Henry Lambert said...

a decent paper is The Psychology of Brands by Robert Heath (email me if you want a copy). It basically says that consumers are more influenced by emotive advertising than by rational advertising. The best ads tend to be emotional and therefore more persuasive too.

Good agencies are set up to make sure the work produced is as effective as possible - they work hard to give creative teams a set of parameters, such as target audiences and insights, to work within. This makes it hard for creatives to produce something that won't be effective.

A couple of words of warning for anonymous though: Nick Bell.

Dan said...

There's always the classic:

"Do Award-Winning Commercials Sell?",
by Donald Gunn,
which can be found in
"How Advertising Works",
edited by John Philip Jones.

It speaks of two studies involving the 200 most awarded campaigns in the world in 1992-93 and the 200 most awarded campaigns in 1994-95.

The conclusion (based on hard facts): The highly awarded campaigns were 2.5 times as effective in terms of reaching their objectives as were "average" campaigns. 86.5% of the, in total, 400 highly awarded campaigns were successful in the market place. Not bad.

A highly recommended read.

Anonymous said...

As for the "zombie argument" coming back around again, I think you yourself may be to blame for this by forcing people to choose between one or the other: doubling sales or doing the ad of the year. Your poll results indicate creativity and results are mutually exclusive because the question itself separates them. No big shock, then, that the majority of readers on a Creative's blog would opt for doing the ad of the year when given no other choice involving creativity. Just a thought.

Anonymous said...


There's not a lot to add to what's been said here, other than to haul out that old sawhorse: "Nothing kills a bad product faster than good advertising." Today, I think we should add, "And nothing exposes bad marketing faster than good advertising."

The role of things like distribution and pricing often undo the goodwill and relevance that good advertising creates; sometimes I feel like Stella, for example, should be doing a lot better in sales than it has recently.

I think agencies (and especially my planning brethren) often forget that the awful boring stuff that the client takes care of, if left unsupervised, can really undo a great campaign.

By the way, how are you? I'm heading back your way soon, I think.

Vando said...

Hey Scamp,

Always a good argument hey! I love great creative and no doubt there's enough proof it works, ....just bear in mind my point was more that sometimes the most creative approach may not always be the best. I'm questioning whether agencies might sometimes be reluctant to explore this route when it could be a more effective way to go.

And ultimately that gets down to understanding how the punter reacts to the creative - the planners job.

Scamp, also a good point about how clients shouldn't want creatives to care about effectiveness. I found a good quote from Richard Huntington last year which goes....

"The planner's job is to devise a brand’s sales promise to the consumer and to prove the brands delivery against this promise. It is the planner’s role to be the salesperson. The planner is tasked with effectiveness.

This frees creatives up to present the promise and the proof in the most compelling way possible."

Spot on.


Anonymous said...


I don't think it's a case of giving a shit/not giving a shit about the client.

From my own point of view (and I confess to being disgustingly self-indulgent in some of my work), award winning creativity is not mutually exclusive to delivering on the clients bottom line. (The excellent D&AD 'Creativity Works' case studies make very interesting reading)

The simple truth is that the 'ad of the year' will do so much more than just double the clients sales. In fact, it would probably be working for the client long after the marketing director who sanctioned the production has left.

As a client, which would you choose? Sharp increase for the short run that's forgotten as soon as sales start to dip or long-term sustainable growth?

Sometimes I think it is the marketeers' (is that the right term to use? I can't help but think of did I ever get this copywriting gig?)motives that should be called into question. After all, shouldn't they be thinking about what's good for the brand?