Creativity loses out to ad value

The previously localised Effie ad effectiveness awards are being extended across Europe as client companies seek greater accountability from their agencies. By John Shannon. John Shannon is president of Grey International

Only weeks after the European Association of Advertising Agencies launched its pan-European ad effectiveness awards, Europe’s agencies are preparing themselves for another scheme to honour cross-border campaign effectiveness.

This time it is the turn of advertising associations from Germany, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria and the Netherlands, who on November 22 in Dresden will present a European version of the Effie award scheme that is already operated at a local level in some European countries.

The advent of these two schemes reflects the growing stature and maturity of cross-border advertising. It is also a measure of the increasing pre-occupation of multinational clients throughout the region with the issue of ad effectiveness and a shift away from the primacy of traditional “creative” awards.

Their concern was highlighted recently when Heinz Wiezorek, head Coca-Cola Germany, urged agencies to do more to measure and demonstrate the performance of ads.

Wiezorek believes in the power of advertising. He affirms unequivocally that if companies want to maintain healthy prices and margins they must continue to invest in brand building.

He represents a growing body of opinion in the industry that believes some agencies should work more closely with their clients to determine what their advertising is actually achieving.

“Recall and awareness levels should be measured, and there are many new measurement instruments that should be used,” Wiezorek argues. “The professional analysis of scanner data should play a big role in the future. In this way, the behaviour of individual consumers becomes transparent.”

Wiezorek also points out that it is in agencies’ interests to demonstrate the performance of their ad. If they do not, many clients may once again be tempted to divert their advertising budgets into price promotions. To head off this threat, agencies must show that their work builds long-term consumer loyalty, while also delivering greater sales and margins.

This may be unwelcome news for those who were hoping for a return to the less accountable climate of the Eighties. However, the focus of today’s advertisers remains firmly fixed on the bottom line.

Clients seek to develop pan European advertising because they believe it offers the most effective way to build strong and coherent brands in a number of markets. Agencies must be prepared to prove them right.

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