Ads awards will give mar­keters fresh im­pe­tus

The Star (Kenya) - - News -

Af­ter an ab­sence of 12 years, and a decade of toxic wran­gling be­fore that, Kenya has just re­vived its annual ad­ver­tis­ing awards. It’s a pos­i­tive step for any­one who feels that we all de­serve bet­ter ad­ver­tis­ing.

Mar­ket economies put the con­sumer first, and that re­quires brands to un­der­stand both their needs and their per­cep­tions. The tool that best ad­dresses con­sumer per­cep­tions is ad­ver­tis­ing. And yes, it does work. Any­one who doubts that should ex­am­ine the con­tents of their bath­room cab­i­net.

It works even bet­ter when the out­bound ad­ver­tis­ing mes­sage is in­te­grated with in­bound chan­nels so that con­sumers can re­act to the brand: SMS, so­cial me­dia, events and even coupons.

But none of this works if the ad­ver­tis­ing is dull or looks bad. That is why the world de­vel­oped ad­ver­tis­ing awards. So that pro­fes­sion­als who know what they are do­ing are able to hone their skills in a com­pet­i­tive en­vi­ron­ment. And so that peo­ple who think cre­at­ing ad­ver­tis­ing is easy are forced to re­con­sider.

So I was de­lighted to par­tic­i­pate in judg­ing of the 2016 Kenya ad awards. The process was well run, by a team from the Lo­eries Awards in South Africa. While Kenyans may look askance at this, they will know that some­times we let things get so out of hand here that only an out­sider can sort it out.

So it was sorted out. Judges were pro­tected from un­due in­flu­ence and per­mit­ted to get on with their job. This was a big one: over two days we de­bated nearly 450 en­tries. A third of them were short­listed and 66 won prizes.

Two thirds of the awards were won by the agen­cies of the be­he­moth Scan­group. So one third were won by other agen­cies; and more might have won if they had en­tered. I hope that the restora­tion of the com­pe­ti­tion and the work that won will en­cour­age wider par­tic­i­pa­tion next year.

Vis­ually the work looked a whole lot bet­ter than it did 12 years ago, espe­cially on TV. But the lack of orig­i­nal pho­tog­ra­phy made the print cat­e­gory much less in­ter­est­ing. Us­ing stock pho­tog­ra­phy tends to in­di­cate that you don’t re­ally care about per­suad­ing con­sumers, and any old im­age will do. It won’t.

The least im­pres­sive work was in ra­dio. I wouldn’t blame lis­ten­ers for tun­ing out of this crescendo of jib­ber-jab­ber.

Over­all I’d say that re­ally good ideas were thin­ner on the ground, which raises con­cerns about impact. The most im­pres­sive ideas were ex­e­cuted in the space where dig­i­tal meets TV.

I’ll com­ment on spe­cific cat­e­gories over the com­ing weeks, but there is clearly no lack of ca­pa­bil­ity in the Kenyan ad­ver­tis­ing scene. But the peo­ple who pay for ad­ver­tis­ing need to un­der­stand how to make it work bet­ter. That’s about sup­port­ing re­ally new ideas, not copy­ing your peer group.

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