by Katlego Moutlana. To say my first experience as an APEX Awards judge was intimidating is to put it mildly but it has made me adopt a more-critical approach as to what it is that we, as marketers, are truly meant to be doing and the type of work we exist to deliver for our clients.

The APEX Awards, hosted by the Association for Communication and Advertising (ACA) of South Africa, evaluates communications campaigns based on their effectiveness in improving the client’s bottom line. As a judge, I was exposed to some compelling cases of effective campaigns, some less-compelling cases with tenuous results and, in some instances, cases with completely absent measures of success. Those entries that did make it to the top of the pile were well-written, insightful and exciting pieces of work that would make any marketer and planner proud.

Never-ending debate

The challenge of delivering a strategy that will bear results, as against producing disruptive creative that will make brands stand out, is one that has always occupied my mind. As a planner who daydreams of being a copywriter, I must admit I’ve often found myself falling in love with work that I know won’t nudge any metrics. And, so, I reflected on the never-ending debate: when does an effective strategy start to hamper groundbreaking creative and when does disruptive work start to undermine our responsibility to our clients?

A lot of the work today is simply a cataloguing of a product’s benefits and attributes and, dare I say, we’ve been stalling at the very purpose of our service — to inspire people to buy said products and services. And it’s in the inspiring that strategy and creativity make the best of bedfellows.

We know that nothing is more efficient than creative advertising at getting people to buy, Verimark ads aside. The more creative your advertising, the more attention and impact they will have. The more consumers will think about you, the more likely they are to convert to customers. But where we often get stumped in boardrooms is whether creativity has had an influence on real-life purchase behavior, or any affect at all.

Address the basics

Of course, certain dimensions of creativity work harder than others to influence and so we still need to address the basics of rigorously identifying compelling human truths that lend themselves to a different perspective or challenge conventional wisdom; and producing fantastically executed work that gets the message out clearly and engages, thereby managing, somewhere deep in the recesses of our minds, to pitch a tent in which that brand or product will reside.

And that is what I found myself learning these past few weeks.

How to systematically measure the effectiveness of a campaign. How to judge a piece of creative work on more than just the brand love or the heartstrings it tugs, but to reward and acknowledge inspiring ideas that actually worked.

You can’t always accurately predict the effectiveness of a creative campaign before you get the results but you can come pretty close.


Katlego MoutlanaKatlego Moutlana is head of strategy at Mortimer Harvey, where she leverages her experience in the FMCG and banking industries and guides communication strategies of blue-chip clients. Career high-points include working as brand experience manager when Virgin Mobile was launched and gaining five years’ experience TBWA; she also worked on the Vodacom account at Ireland/Davenport. She lectures part-time at AAA School of Advertising and believes great creative may truly make a difference to a company’s bottom line.

“Motive” is a by-invitation-only column on Contributors are picked by the editors but generally don’t form part of our regular columnist lineup, unless the topic is off-column.

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