Adland boasts plethora of awards, but few point to issue of profit and loss

Effies stand out for focusing on effectiveness of campaigns based on robust criteria

Marketers are busy and business-like people. Their bosses and shareholders would shudder at the alternative. Advertisers may look fondly at agency copywriters and art directors as avant-garde folk, doing their best to push creative boundaries and provide brands with a strong image to help them stand out from their competitors in the marketplace.

Nonetheless, true success comes down to improving the bottom line. Anything else is high-falutin, airy-fairy self-indulgence that may well grab the attention of fellow adlanders but does little or nothing in making the cut to drive sales and advance profits. Adland boasts a plethora of award shows, but few point to the issue of profit and loss.

The work of British advertising experts Les Binet and Peter Field has become the holy doctrine forever proffered to show the need for long-term investment in marketing to build enduring sales. Andrew Ehrenberg and Byron Sharp are also regularly quoted at Marketing Institute Ireland conferences in making a compelling and easily understood case for brand sales growth.

In his book, Marketing is in Trouble (Orpen Press), former Glanbia and C&C marketing boss Colin Gordon, writes that marketing is at the centre of how the outside world of the consumer’s life and context meets business challenges. It also must cope with its own credibility. “In the art vs science debate, it’s hard enough for marketers to overcome the coping requirement without so many cliched simplifications about the practice and process of marketing being bandied about,” Gordon opines.


He scolds marketers for focusing too much on marketing communications at the expense of other elements. That said, advertisers enjoy the frisson generated by award shows. Returning to the office with a trophy in hand is rather edifying. The fact that the award is based on the scrutiny of both art and science is a major bonus, one to which even the most sceptical accountant can take a shine.

The Effies

The Effies stand out for focusing on the effectiveness of campaigns based on robust criteria.

The Effies are a sequel to the previous adland Oscars. The Institute of Advertising Practitioners in Ireland (IAPI) looked across the Irish Sea and liked what they saw their respective industry body, the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), had done with the Advertising Effectiveness awards, aka AdFx. The Effies are intended do the same, but by lending an international benchmark.

A respected panel of judges are recruited and vetted for any possible conflicts of interest. Campaign entries are judged using various criteria, with 70 per cent of the score centred on the challenge, context and objectives, insight and strategic idea. Bringing the concept to life, including the creative and media strategies, and the work itself, are also subject to analysis. Results account for the remaining 30 per cent.

The lens through which jurists evaluate each campaign is effectiveness. Jurors seek results with context against goals. Scores determine which cases will be finalists and which finalists will be awarded a gold, silver or bronze Effie. The finalist score level and each winning score level – gold, silver, bronze – has a minimum required.

Finalist status and category trophies are presented at the judges’ discretion. It is quite possible that a category may yield no finalists, if no campaign entry meets the minimum cut-off for finalist status. Similarly, there may be up to four winners of any level or perhaps no winners at all in a category, depending on whether an entry meets the minimum award cut-off.

Direct feedback from the judges is available. The entry guide outlines what judges are looking for and within each scoring section. Achieving finalist or winner status in the Effies is no mean feat. Only a small number of campaigns are finalists each year and of these, a fraction are winners. To win the grand prix trophy, a campaign must be exceptional. The finalists and winners receive points in an effectiveness index and the relevant credits are recorded in the Effie case database.

Last week, Ireland’s inaugural Effies were handed out in the ongoing effort to make selling advertising effectiveness easier. As jury chairman Damian Devaney of TBV Global said, the scarcity value and the standard required by Effie Worldwide became apparent during the online ceremony where only seven gold, 12 silver and 12 bronze trophies were presented in 22 categories.

Drum roll, please. Róisín Keown’s The Brill Building had reason to be cheerful as they won two golds for their Breakthrough Cancer Research work and The Shop That Almost Wasn’t. Boys + Girls and Core bagged gold for Three Ireland’s Connected Island. The campaign is based on Three’s connectivity for Arranmore, the island off Donegal. The idea was an initiative to save the island from extinction and reverse more than 150 years of emigration.

Gold also went to Boys + Girls and PHD for Skoda’s The Power of One Little Word. Bonfire’s work for the Alone charity, The Public House’s campaign for the Epic emigration museum and London creative shop Mother and their entry for Diageo’s Baileys cream liqueur, titled It’s a Treat: the Five-Year Turnaround Story, were the other gold winners.

Michael Cullen is editor of