Finweek English Edition - - ADVERTISING & MARKETING -

If creative ad­ver­tis­ing works for a brand, then surely Apex ef­fec­tive­ness award-win­ning ads should also win creative awards. Do they? There is a cor­re­la­tion be­tween the t wo kinds of awards, but it is not ab­so­lute. Of the nine Apex win­ners last week, six (67%) were also re­cip­i­ents this year of var­i­ous creative awards – but not al­ways at an equiv­a­lent level of ex­cel­lence. For ex­am­ple, KingJames’s much-lauded cam­paign for Santam star­ring Ben Kings­ley and sev­eral looka­likes picked up a Lo­erie Gold, a One Show Sil­ver and a Clio Sil­ver last year, but it had to be sat­is­fied with a Bronze Apex.

Or give a thought to Car­ling Black Label’s “Be the coach” cam­paign by Ogilvy. It was South Africa’s most-awarded global mar­ket­ing cam­paign over the last two years, win­ning 25 in­ter­na­tional awards, a Grand Prix and six Golds at last year’s Lo­eries. But the Apex judges thought it was worth only a measly Sil­ver. The Apex are re­garded in SA as one of the most im­por­tant awards plat­forms, but l ike other ef­fec­tive­ness awards (such as the IPA awards in the UK, or the Effies in Amer­ica), they never at­tract the same vol­ume of en­tries as the creative events. Not even close. Last year, for ex­am­ple, there were 2 744 pro­fes­sional en­tries for the Lo­eries com­pared with 50 for Apex.

“An Apex en­try re­quires sig­nif­i­cant ex­tra ef­fort,” says Apex jury chair­man Andy Rice. “With Lo­eries, for ex­am­ple, you’ve done the hard work al­ready. All you have to do is fill in an en­try form and you’re in. But an ef­fec­tive­ness award re­quires you to pro­duce a case study, show­ing how the cam­paign has in­flu­enced sales, ar­gu­ing the case and pro­duc­ing ev­i­dence to prove the point. You have to track per­for­mance over any­thing from six months to a year. All of this re­quires a lot more ef­fort and dili­gence. This is a lowvol­ume, high-value award sys­tem. If we get 80 en­tries we are very happy.

“What we found this year is that if en­trants don’t take the trou­ble to un­der­stand the is­sues, their en­tries lack rel­e­vance and sharp­ness. We ran work­shops on how to pre­pare an en­try, but th­ese were very poorly at­tended.”

There are also clients who won’t ap­prove an en­try be­cause it gives away mar­ket­ing se­crets to com­peti­tors. Ogilvy Jo­han­nes­burg CEO Ju­lian Ribeiro says there is no good rea­son for this re­luc­tance be­cause re­sults can be pro­vided in con­fi­dence, and can be in­dexed. But this doesn’t pro­tect a unique idea from be­ing copied. Rice con­cedes that there may very well be bet­ter cases out there that have never been en­tered.

But he also points out that the time fac­tor in build­ing a case study means that most en­tries are prob­a­bly at least two years old by the time they are en­tered. Af­ter an in­ter­val that long, when ideas have long been copied and mar­ket­ing con­di­tions have changed, there is prob­a­bly lit­tle to lose to copy­cats.

Joe Pub­lic was the top agency at Apex, ben­e­fit­ing from the 14 points (equal to a Sil­ver) we awarded for the spe­cial prize for a non-profit client. But Ogilvy Jo­han­nes­burg’s points came from three com­mer­cial clients. But the Ogilvy Group dom­i­nated, en­trench­ing its po­si­tion as the top Apex win­ner of all time.

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