Tag Archives: IPA Effectiveness Awards

Brave and effective

A wonderful night at the IPA Effectiveness Awards. Congratulations to all the winners; we never get bored of pointing out how important these awards are. Proving the impact of advertising in hard business terms is the Grail; nothing is more deserving of awards, celebrations and hangovers.

For obvious partisan reasons we’re pleased here at Thinkbox about telly’s performance last night. 36 of the 38 winning campaigns had TV advertising at their heart and special congratulations must go to every one of the 122 magnificent seconds that made up the TV ad for the Grand Prix winner, Hovis.

Hovis’s campaign – which scooped the best TV ad at the BTA Awards – increased its sales by 14% year on year and cranked its profits up by £90 million. Its success neatly underlines the findings from the research we did with the IPA earlier this year that finally proved the direct link between advertising creativity and advertising effectiveness. The research showed that the most creatively awarded campaigns – added to great strategic and communications planning – deliver 11 times more efficiency. Hovis’s TV ad is two minutes of living proof of how investing in creativity is not only brave but effective.

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Tell ‘em about the money, honey

Next Monday I’m going to a film premiere – get me.

The occasion is one of the IPA’s “Focus on Effectiveness” events which celebrate 30 years of the IPA Effectiveness Awards by premiering new films of some of the most inspiring case studies from its remarkable databank. You should go, and you can get tickets here.

The case in the spotlight on Monday evening is PG Tips and I’ll be chairing the panel discussion following the screening with Nigel Jones of Publicis, the original author of the paper back in his BMP/DDB days, and Ed Warren, the creative director from Mother, who works on the current Al and Monkey campaign.  The PG Tips film is not only a great excuse to revisit some brilliant PG Tips advertising of the last 30 years, it’s also an incredible testament to two things: the power of a likeable, flexible brand idea, and consistent investment in TV advertising. The film has some excellent lessons, particularly about how the adstock invested in clever, entertaining simians was adapted and reinvented to powerful effect.

So it is very timely to read that PG’s traditional rival, Tetley, is going for a similar feat of adstock reignition and bringing back the Tetley tea folk.

Excited at this advertising serendipity, I clicked on Campaign Live to see how MCBD has approached the task and I see that what they have given us is a great metaphor for the reviving effects of a good cup of tea as the Tetley tea folk are awoken from their ten year sepia sleep and brought back to glorious technicolour life by some spilled tea.  We see that familiar mix of 2D animation with live action, we hear the familiar voices “Stanley? Gaffer? Tina?” and already I can’t wait for the next one in the series. 

At Thinkbox we often present on the theme of how TV hardwires positive brand associations into your long term memory and the vital importance of emotion in decision making, but I was still struck by how a few seconds’ reminder of something loved and familiar can evoke such affectionate feelings in me. I wish Tetley every success with the new/classic campaign. It’s a great strategy and, with some clever writing that brings out both the fresh and familiar as the campaign progresses, there’s every reason for it to be highly profitable; but they will need to stick at it as PG Tips has for half a century.

It’s made me wonder what other greatly loved brand icons might be dusted off.  I’m going to stick my neck out here and say that I wouldn’t be surprised if somewhere in adland, they’re working on a campaign for the reintroduction of the Honey Monster…

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When is ‘enough’ enough?

The results of two new research studies have made me question one of the final shibboleths of media planning: the idea that there is such a thing as an ‘effective frequency’ which can be easily defined and which offers a single, optimal level at which the advertising ‘works’.

The first piece of research was a neuroscientific study we carried out. It revealed how we process advertising when we watch TV as opposed to when we are engaged in various online activities. It clearly points to the importance of emotion and engagement in driving performance – much more so than attention – and underlines recent insights into the role emotional association and implicit memory play in strengthening a brand’s position within our choice set. As the neuroscientists say, “the neurones that fire together wire together”.

The second study, conducted with the IPA, compared data from the IPA Databank with scores from the Gunn Report and showed conclusively that creativity does pay…just not necessarily in the way we expected. There was a much greater pound-for-pound performance amongst creatively-awarded ads in terms of driving efficiency (i.e. how much relative share of voice drives market share), but the differences in absolute effectiveness were less marked for the simple reason that the creatively-awarded campaigns spent less and therefore achieved a lower share of voice, despite the fact that they were eleven times more efficient at driving market share. One of the explanations for this may be that many of these campaigns were advised that they could ‘get away with’ spending less to achieve their target levels of awareness, recall, stand-out etc. so the ads could achieve them with lower levels of frequency.

So what of ‘effective frequency’?

Qualitatively, we have seen many examples of ad campaigns where respondents appear quite happy to watch and enjoy their favourite ads time and time again; Barclays ‘Waterslide’ and Comparethemarket.com’s Meerkat ads are good recent examples of this. We can all think of ads that we would be happy to keep seeing, like Honda ‘Cog’, Sony ‘Balls’ and Cadbury’s Gorilla.  It is clear that there is no single magic number beyond which the message has landed and the job is done. Every additional exposure to an ad is part of the continued wiring together of neurones into positive associations with the brand. These can last a lifetime and relate far more closely to business performance and incremental profit than the message cut-through approach that underpins much of the thinking behind the concept of ‘effective frequency’.  

I’m not denying that ads can sometimes reach their maximum desirable frequency, after which even I start shouting at the TV.  But very, very few campaigns get to the Crazy Frog level and recency is a major factor here.  No-one wants to see the same ad 20 times in a single day, but, spread across a month,  that frequency becomes totally acceptable.

All of the new insights from behavioural economics and neuroscience (two polar opposite disciplines yielding very similar insights) about the power of fame and emotion to influence the way we use implicit associations to ‘short-cut’ the decision-making process have successfully weaned us away from the ‘message myth’, swaddled in the comfort blanket of influence models such as AIDA and DAGMAR. Perhaps now is the time to rethink the role of frequency within the mix; especially if it also means refocusing on the potential payback achieved by higher levels of advertising creativity.

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A qualified hurrah

No other awards do what the IPA Effectiveness Awards do – honour the actual, transformational effect that good advertising can have. For this reason above all they remain the gold standard in awards.  And for that reason Thinkbox is extremely proud to sponsor them.

At Monday night’s awards do, all winners were deserving of praise. The campaigns had worked brilliantly and the brains behind them had gone the extra mile to show how they worked. They proved the influence of advertising on the bottom line and they deserve our thanks for that effort.  

And there was also great jubilation to see history being made when Mediaedge:CIA won both the Grand Prix for Morrisons Let’s Grow and Effectiveness Agency of the Year.  I hope many other media agencies will follow them by taking more responsibility for effectiveness in the coming years.

However, there was one thing that puzzles me – why were entries restricted to campaigns that had cost less than a total of £2.5 million?

£2.5 million is still a hefty amount of money – especially at the moment – but isn’t effectiveness still effectiveness whatever the budget? A campaign spending £2.5m  should have absolutely no problem demonstrating its effectiveness against a campaign spending £25m.  Indeed, the way most entries seemed to define ROI (return divided by investment), the smaller the budget the easier the task I reckon.  Let me explain.

Generally speaking, as you start to invest in advertising the efficiency of your spend will be very high, but as your brand matures, increases its market share and you spend more, the efficiency of your spend is likely to reduce leading to the phenomenon of ‘diminishing returns’.   However, effectiveness is not the same thing as efficiency and respected gurus such as Tim Ambler, Les Binet and Peter Field have shown how, if we persist in defining ROI as Return divided by Investment it can lead to falling brand shares, declining profit and a disappearing marketing budget.  Return minus investment should be our goal; by pursuing this definition brands will focus on what really matters which is increasing market share and profit growth.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with diminishing returns, as long as there is still a return, the brands that understand this become market leaders.  However if you set your goal as ‘how can I get the most impressive ratio between what I spend and the incremental profit it generates?’ you are likely to spend less and remain a small brand (a bit like Arsenal).

Restricting the budget restricts those eligible to enter and, in an inadvertent way, sort of paints advertising as a cost rather than an investment. In a perfect world advertisers would invest more and more because they would make more and more profit. We don’t live in a perfect world, of course.

I’m also mystified by a few of the Special Awards.  Why have an award for best integration, or best use of media?  Either they were effective campaigns or not.  100% use of PR or outdoor or anything else would be unlikely to win either of those awards, but if it delivered the best business results then why reward other less successful campaigns.

There is obviously a bit of vested interest in all my concerns; the restricted budget meant that broadcast TV featured in fewer of the winners than in other years, though, despite this, the Grand Prix and two of the three golds went to campaigns with TV at their heart.  For next year’s awards, it’s business as usual: all-comers and all shapes and sizes of campaigns will be eligible, so start gathering the evidence now.

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