by Charl Thom, Group MD, FoxP2 Enough has probably been said about media accreditation for the Loerie awards over the last couple of weeks. A very public slugfest ensued, which has been tweeted and re-tweeted by everyone with an opinion. As my grandfather used to say, perhaps there are three sides to the story, yours, mine, and the truth.

Not to insinuate that anyone has been dishonest, it’s simply human nature to view matters from our own perspective. And as my old man used to say, a seasoned journalist of forty plus years himself, there is no such thing as objectivity. The thoughts I’d like to share however, aren’t about the media accreditation issue, but rather about the fact that the issue has seemingly degenerated into a free for all against the value of creative award shows in general, and in fact, our industry’s approach to creativity. Whilst there are many things our industry could still to do better, it’s important to maintain a balanced perspective.

Creative award shows have an important role to play. The argument that these shows are irrelevant, or have simply become an excuse to escape the daily grind and party, is an opinion that does nothing but damage the reputation of the people that make such unconsidered statements.

The most awarded campaign at the 2011 Loerie awards was also the most awarded campaign at the Apex awards. It was a highly creative campaign, that worked. It delivered on and exceeded hardcore objectives laid down by our client brandhouse, by giving them a 450% earned media return on investment. Our second most awarded campaign at those same Loerie awards was the work for It won one of only two gold awards handed out at this year’s Apex awards. The campaign introduced a brand new brand to consumers, and it sold life insurance policies. One billion Rand’s worth of policy cover. In four months. And five billion Rand’s worth of policy cover in twelve months.

I worked alongside honest, hardworking people in our agency to create these campaigns. People with a work ethic that many folks in less demanding industries wouldn’t begin to comprehend. People that sacrifice their evenings and their weekends, because they take seriously the responsibility of the brands that have been entrusted to them by their clients. People that want to be proud of the work that they create and share with the world. If you can’t tell, I’m proud of them.

Why begrudge them a two-day industry specific event, which still aims to celebrate the best of commercial creativity and improve the standard of the work? Most industries around the world, ranging from creative ones like the film and publishing industries to sporting ‘industry’ bodies, celebrate and encourage greatness in their particular field through awards shows and events.

Sure, the creative award shows will recognise some work that may have been less successful from a commercial point of view. But I’ve never seen The Loeries claim to reward effectiveness, that’s why we have the Apex awards, and we certainly value them at least as much as our Loerie awards. However, as I point out in a previous opinion piece  there is a strong argument for the link between creativity and effectiveness.

A 2010 study was conducted whereby the UK’s Institute of Practitioners in Advertising merged data from their Effectiveness Awards with results of the Gunn Report, to prove that there is a direct link between creativity and effectiveness. The study analysed 435 campaigns over a 16-year period, starting in 1994, and during this period, creatively awarded campaigns have been seven times more efficient than non-awarded ones. Between 2003 and 2012, they were twelve times more efficient.

When one adds these factors to the broader perspective of the current debate, it’s hardly surprising that every RFI we receive from a client or pitch consultant still contains a section requesting details on recent success at award shows. At the very least, success at these shows offer some insight into the creative aptitude of an agency and its people, but even more than this, I believe they push our industry forward through the recognition and celebration of great creative innovation. None more so than our local Loerie awards.

Reprinted from the blog of Charl Thom. Hear more from Charl. Get onto our weekly mailer.


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