According to the author, the most credible way to evaluate advertising is to use the award winners as the models.
This observation reminded me of Professor Marilyn Strathern's pithy restatement of Goodhart's Law: "When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure." (I was introduced to the law in Mr. Dave Trott's article, The Dog's Bollocks.)
If awards become the be-all and end-all of advertising, wouldn't such a state of affairs be like the tail wagging the dog?
Effectiveness—and the awards that spotlight it (e.g. the Effies)—should be the focus of our industry.
A subjective evaluation can only result in no-brain advertising (Rapp and Collins), plus make matters worse for the consumers, advertising industry, and marketers.
Advertising that does nothing for the prospect is quickly forgotten, having merely served to add to the clutter.
The human being your advertising is aimed at is the alter ego of the not-in-market individual. The two neither think alike nor share the same emotional profile.
They can't be appealed to and persuaded in the same way. And they most certainly do not judge advertising like the people who create & approve it.
Seen in this light, the importance of understanding what happens after the advertising steps out into the real world can't be emphasised enough.
Out here, advertising competes not only with other advertising but also a cultural Zeitgeist saturated with:
- word of mouth
- social machinations
- attitudes—many of which are virtually impossible to change
- traditional purchasing behaviours
- long-established brand preferences
- the media
- the distraction of ubiquitous technology
- marketing/advertising ennui
How will your advertising fare in this melee?
- What position do I want our brand to occupy or reinforce in the prospect's mind after experiencing our advertising?
- There's a lot of me-too products and me-too advertising out there. Is our advertising based on a strategy that merely orbits around "creative" and/or awards-oriented tactics?
- Or is our strategy firmly rooted in the prospect and market realities?
- If we are not a market leader, are we advertising like one—are we spending time and money on branding when we should be improving our top line . . . at least for the foreseeable future?
- What if all advertising for our brand were to be stopped tomorrow? Would our position and brand equity be seriously undermined, or would the other elements of our marketing mix pick up the slack, if any?
- Is there a different advertising medium that could prove more useful?
- In the first place, should we be advertising at all? Is there a better and smarter "non-advertising" way to accomplish the same goals?
- Supposing it was my money on the line, would I approve a particular ad to run?
The pursuit of the bright shiny object—be it an award, a technology or something else—is not what advertising is about.
To paraphrase Ogilvy, the end product should be evaluated on the basis of its content, not its form.
Any attempt to sell advertising "creativity" as well as the brand paying for the advertising can only result in failure to sell neither.
And that can be a fatal mistake.