Let’s define effectiveness. According to dictionary.com, sorry but I can’t be bothered to get the hardback Collins off of the shelf, it means: “adequate to accomplish a purpose; producing the intended or expected result.”
I don’t like the word adequate, it upsets me. As an advertiser, and yes that is still what we do, by the way, we let the consumer know that something is available and drive demand for its purchase through whatever relevant channels are available, Adequacy can’t deliver excellence, build and preserve a brand persona and create a commercial differentiation. Adequacy is mediocrity, it’s getting by, it’s like getting a C.
Adequacy is mediocrity, it’s getting by, it’s like getting a C.
For the life of me, I can’t remember an annual client or performance review when the take-out has been “the performance over the past 12 months has been magnificently adequate, we are delighted with your mediocre input and output and would, therefore, like to extend your contract for the next three years subject to you delivering more of the same. We consider you to be very effective.”
the difference between an intelligent and an effective solution.
We need to move from chasing effectiveness on our clients’ behalf to delivering intelligent ideas and solutions. Let’s look at the difference between an intelligent and an effective solution.
If you wanted to put a man in space you buy a big rocket and send him up there. Voila, he’s in space. It’s an effective solution. An intelligent solution needs to take more into consideration. What’s the reason for the trip and is it necessary? What will he do when he’s up there, what relevant data can he collect, what’s the story? Unless he comes back safely, along with any data he’s been briefed to collect, then what’s the point? If he doesn’t return safely how does that affect the astronaut recruitment program, could we do it again?
An intelligent solution needs to take more into consideration.
Effectiveness and intelligence often clash. To effectively end an argument, you can smack someone over the head with a brick repeatedly until they stop arguing. It’s the ignorant solution and would be very effective. Or you can know your material and intelligently try and sway them to your point of view first and foremost, avoiding conflict and possible injury to one’s own noggin! You may even find common ground and build a relationship.
The consumer is inundated more than ever with badly targeted and ill-conceived messages. The media conversation is now leaking into the fabric of everyday life through mobile, through SoMe engagement and through search. So rather than digital being the saviour of the consumer, by avoiding the perceived brand ‘head bashing’ previously administered during watching Britain’s Got talent on TV, it is in danger of demonising the entire broadcast process, especially when it allows your brand to sit next to an ISIS recruitment banner. But that’s a programmatic issue and that’s for another day.
All of the above taken into consideration, certain bodies will still tell you how effective this method is which is mind-boggling, but how intelligent is it?
And now for the celebrations of effectiveness. Effectiveness awards. These award shows have quickly become the darling of the industry, adopted as the new badge of honour by agencies, believing clients are more willing to see these awards as an endorsement of excellence, rather than the annual celebration of scam at the now more infamous agency recognition ceremonies such as Cannes or the Lynx in the Middle East.
I’ve seen brands celebrating effectiveness awards while laying off staff and capping salaries. Surely those actions could be seen as symptoms of ineffectiveness?
But I want to ask the question. What effectiveness do these awards actually recognize and reward? Being effective at winning effectiveness awards? Being effective at producing a deck which convinces a panel how effective an idea is? How is this effectiveness verified? Which unbiased consultancy entity sits and checks the facts? Is the effectiveness reflected in client profitability, staff retention and the responsible agency’s growth? I’ve seen brands celebrating effectiveness awards while laying off staff and capping salaries. Surely those actions could be seen as symptoms of ineffectiveness?
In my opinion, intelligent clients don’t need to see agency awards, they see the impact on a daily basis through some pretty obvious metrics. It easy to see when something has worked, is working and to what degree it can continue to work.
Plus there is a real commercial downside at play here.
Too many clients now trade the possibility of winning awards by using their budgets and brands as a trade-off against proper agency remuneration. This is not an intelligent sustainable model and there’s only one way this ends commercially for the agency involved. But if you want to keep your narrow-minded agency happy in the short-term and artificially reduce the cost of your ‘marcoms’, it may well prove to be a highly effective solution, but not an intelligent one.