"The biggest and best surprises come from the low-budget category! Every year, we see amazing ideas and executions that didn’t demand big bucks to get big results. And they’re usually in service to great causes, nonprofits, or other for-good endeavors, which makes their success even more noteworthy." said Alisun Armstrong, Executive Director of the Midas Awards, in the interview on AME & on Creativity & Effectiveness.
Here's the Q&A....
1. The AME Awards has 22 years of honoring the World’s Best Advertising & Marketing Effectiveness under its belt. Is there a link between creativity and effectiveness?
A creative campaign may have a much better chance of being enjoyed by the viewer, but creativity alone isn’t enough. There’s an extra mystery ingredient that turns that enjoyment into consumer action. The AME Awards Winners Showcase is basically a year-by-year list of the agencies and creatives who possess that ingredient, use it in liberal application, and prove that entertaining work may stick in the mind… but an effective piece sticks and inspires action.
2. What are the mainstay components of award-winning entries that have scored top honors in the AME Awards?
One word: Results.
While execution, idea, and marketing objectives/strategy are all important, the biggest burden an AME entry bears is proving its effectiveness—whether it’s earned media, a sales uptick, or whatever desired outcome is called for in the marketing brief.
It can be beautiful. It can be informative. It can be hilarious! But if it didn’t move the needle, it’s not AME material.
3. AME Awards the highest-ranking Gold-winning entry in each region with a Platinum AME. What is the significance of the Platinum Award, and how have Platinum winners increased brand awareness?
The Platinum Award winners represent the best-of-the-best, by region. These winners have come out of three brutal rounds of scoring at the very top—and one of them will also earn the biggest AME honor, the Grand Award. And because the number-one thing the judges are looking for is results, the Platinum winners, sort of by default, absolutely must have increased brand awareness.
4. In this multi-channel world, buzz is very important in gaining the attention of the consumer. How has social media and metrics changed AME Grand Jury members’ view of award-deserving work?
I think it’s made the judges more demanding. The most consistent bit of feedback I get from the jury is lackluster evidence of results, which accounts for 30% of the overall score—the most heavily weighted of the four components of the scoring matrix. With all the metrics available through social media/video and email, tracking and scheduling apps, etc. it’s easier than ever to prove a campaign’s effectiveness, and the judges are absolutely in the right for expecting more from entrants—if creatives aren’t taking advantage of this wealth of information (and using it to their advantage by tweaking/adjusting on-the-fly if something doesn’t seem to be getting any traction) for their entry, it will be reflected in the score.
5. AME introduced the AME Green Award in 2011. Have you seen a rise in creative effectiveness and an increase in the number of green-themed work over the years?
Absolutely! It’s bitter-sweet, though—we’re seeing an increase in eco-themed entries because conditions on this planet, whether due to natural or human causes, continue to deteriorate and demand a call to action. But on the plus-side, creatives are coming up with brilliant ways to bring attention to the issues, and people are responding. And when this combination of creativity and effectiveness results in an AME Award, these issues get even broader exposure, amplifying the message.
6. How has allowing each entry to be reviewed in its social, economic, and cultural context contributed to a wider worldview of creative and effective excellence in advertising?
Execution is region-blind. For lack of a better term, I’d say it’s “easy” for any juror worth their salt to recognize great production value, superior design and art direction, etc.—and our Grand Jury is a collection of some of the best creative, strategy, and marketing people in the world. But when it comes to idea, effectiveness, and challenge/strategy/objectives, a little local knowledge goes a long way.
There are subtleties that could go unremarked without cultural immersion, target audience responses that may not seem like much, and even quite possibly language barriers for the entrants that mean they can’t precisely parse their data in English on the entry form. So the regional juries, in a sense, screen the entries in the first two rounds; when the group comes together for the final round to determine the Platinums, any doubts a juror from a different part of the world has about the results are quelled.
7. What examples of creative and effective work have you seen that did not require massive media dollars to move consumers to engage and buy the brand?
The biggest and best surprises come from the low-budget category! Every year, we see amazing ideas and executions that didn’t demand big bucks to get big results. And they’re usually in service to great causes, nonprofits, or other for-good endeavors, which makes their success even more noteworthy.
A few recent examples: The 2015 Platinum winner—and Green Award winner, too—was Leo Burnett Manilla’s “Aid Couture” for Ariel and Downy. They spent zero dollars in media, used donated clothing, and raised 1,800,000 PHP for typhoon victims. Leo Burnett Melbourne used less than $2,500 and a hashtag, “#SPCSunday,” to create a national movement that saved Australia’s oldest fruit processing company… and won an AME Gold Award.
It’s refreshing to see the industry flexing their creative powers in constrained conditions. Producing creative, effective work on a tight budget isn’t easy. I’m proud that the AME Awards recognizes the important campaigns that result from that hard work.