What’s it all about, Effie? Judging advertising effectiveness… if that’s even possible.

December 3, 2012

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The “E” is for effectiveness…

Last week I participated in first round judging for the Effie awards at the W hotel in San Francisco. Other such judging was and is taking place all over the country. I assume final rounds will occur early next year with the gala coming shortly thereafter.

Those of us in Adland have long known Effie as the only advertising awards show that places a campaign’s “effectiveness” above all other criteria. The controversial (and very tired) argument is that a marketing campaign cannot truly be great (aka creative) unless it truly works.

Works. So what exactly does that mean?

While the Effie committee does its best to provide benchmarks for measuring effectiveness it can never be an exact science. Not even close. We may view evidence and draw conclusions but there will always be a significant margin for error. It gets even more nebulous when one considers brand building. Awareness and likability (and I don’t mean the Facebook kind) are much harder to quantify than sales, which is why conservative advertisers typically blanche when agencies talk about these attributes. “Awareness is fine but what I really want are sales!” Hence the age-old debate.

Suffice it to say, based on my participation, Effie is doing all they can to give judges the means to evaluate work. For example, submitters have to fill out comprehensive forms detailing results providing tangible proof. Agencies also submit a case study video detailing the campaign’s story. As in all award shows, the submission process has become an art form in and of itself. These ‘commercials’ for the campaigns are key to winning and arguably create an unfair advantage for agencies that can put time and resources into making them. But that is a subject for another post!

Each campaign is scored several different ways assessing the challenge, the idea, the results and other factors. In addition, there are numerous comment sections available to the judges as well as a “disqualification” and “recuse” tab. In other words, there is an elaborate filter for determining winners. Factor in dozens of judges across the country and it’s fair to say Effie winners had to pass a grueling test. One can argue about effectiveness all day long but these prizes do not come easy.

Full disclosure my agency has one horse in the race. Undoubtedly, other gyro offices submitted campaigns as well. However, I did not judge any of them so I did not have to recuse myself. God, I love that word: Recuse.

One Response to “What’s it all about, Effie? Judging advertising effectiveness… if that’s even possible.”

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