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The Conversation


Solving The Effectiveness Conundrum

The host of new agency CEOs need to make effectiveness a priority

By jeremy lee

Should we be concerned that the UK appears to be losing its reputation as a world leader in advertising effectiveness, according to Warc’s latest rankings? Well that rather depends.

On the one hand, Britain can be proud of this successful export - after all the founders of the modern planning discipline were JWT’s Stephen King and BMP’s Stanley Pollitt from the UK. But on the other, seeing our position drop from second place in the global rankings in 2019 to seventh place today should focus minds.

At last year’s Cannes Lions festival, the UK failed to pick up a single Creative Effectiveness gong. While total entries were down on the previous festival - something that the organisers blamed partly on marketers shifting focus on the short term during the pandemic – the UK still underperformed compared to other countries. But blaming short-term activations alone seems a convenient excuse. Alongside the proven long-term, brand-centric model of marketing effectiveness, a more agile alternative is emerging that is characterised by regular high-impact activations that energise a brand within a longer-term strategy.

The IPA and ISBA seem to have acknowledged that effectiveness is an issue and last year launched the Marketing Effectiveness Culture Monitor - a benchmarking survey that looks to place the emphasis more firmly on building creative effectiveness cultures. The IPA has also launched an Effectiveness Accreditation programme as a key plank of the Accelerate Opportunity agenda of its president Julian Douglas.

Will this pay off? Well, it’s certainly a start. The release of the first Effectiveness Culture Monitor showed that there was much still to do - it described effectiveness culture as strong both at agencies and brands “at a surface level” but added that there is significant work that can be done at a deeper level through the creation of effectiveness roadmaps.

More profound will be ensuring that an effectiveness culture is hardwired into more agencies than the 19 that have so far achieved Effectiveness Accreditation, as well as challenging brands to appreciate the long-term benefits of effectiveness over shorter-term metrics.

With a whole sweep of new agency leaders taking up their roles over recent months, the opportunity to reinforce the importance of effectiveness throughout an agency - and to ensure that it doesn’t just remain in the confines of planning departments - is one that should be seized.

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