Advertising Professionals On Importance of Pakistani Ad Agencies to Participate in International Award Programs

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Leading advertising professionals give their views about why is it important for Pakistani advertising agencies to enter and showcase work in award programs internationally.

ADNAN SYED
Former Chief Innovation Officer – Adcom Zenith & Adcom Leo Burnett
Creative, Design & Branding Consultant – Green Man’s Ark

 

Q.1 Which international award programs have you participated in as a juror?
I am proud to have been a part of Spikes Asia Festival of Creativity and Effie Pakistan as a juror.

Q.2 Why is it important for Pakistani advertising agencies to participate in international advertising and creative awards?
One may use advertising and creativity as a broad descriptor to lump together all the different types of award shows from effectiveness-based, design-centric, medium-specific, industry-specific etc.; but they all celebrate the power of creativity.
If our industry is to progress and evolve along with the world, if our communication has to make a positive impact on people’s lives in the future, if brands want to be successful in an increasingly challenging and competitive world, and if we want to continue to attract talent then it is imperative  that we wake up to what is happening for the sake of our own survival. And I don’t mean passively subscribing to the Ads of the World newsletter – rather actively and aggressively self-critiquing our work submitted in award shows; participating and analyzing  what’s happening in the marketing, advertising and creative universe – so that can we hope to salvage a meaningful future for ourselves.

 Q.3 What stood out for you as the juror?
I participated in Spikes Asia in 2018 on the Innovation Jury. It was a mind-blowing experience (no exaggeration!) to observe how tapping deep into culture and behavior can help generate innovative solutions that not only work, but by their sheer creative power; win accolades and recognition.

 Q.4 Why do we see only network agencies being able to participate in such awards from Pakistan?
That is not strictly true. Adcom was sending entries and people to Cannes Lions even as an independent agency. There is no restriction to participation either in terms of competing or attending award shows or conferences organized around the awards; however there IS a significant cost factor to it.

Q.5 How can non-network agencies make their participation viable?
For any agency, it is important to decide the ‘WHY?’ before they can start on the ‘HOW?’
Is it just about entering work in the competition, or about providing people exposure to what’s happening in the world of advertising? The latter can NOW also be achieved through online participation, since many award conferences and shows have gone online.
For entering work in awards, it is important to do a survey of all the award shows out there and see which are relevant, and more importantly, affordable! There are certain award shows which are free to enter, like the Ad Stars which actually are a great way to break into the awards system without breaking the bank. Others like the WARC awards – also free to enter – have specialized categories not available in other award shows.
The Effie Pakistan Awards are a great stepping stone to prepare oneself for the rigor and craft of case-making, essential for making a competition-worthy entry. Once one decides to enter, it is important to keep aware of entry deadlines and requirements for different categories and sub-categories. There is usually written documentation required along with the creative work in the form of a presentation board and/or a show reel. Payment can usually be done online through credit cards. It is important to check if submission materials need to be physically dispatched also, in which case one has to allow for shipping timeAll in all, it is critical for agencies to be able to put together a powerful case-study. And even before that, the work itself MUST be powerful in itself. No “case-study” – however well done – can provide camouflage for mediocre work. 

Q.6 What are the criteria for winning the awards you have judged?
Each award show has a number of categories and the evaluation criteria is different for each. There are a few categories related to the craft of design and advertising where effectiveness metrics don’t play a role in the evaluation. But a lot of categories require proof of impact, and are not judged solely on creativity of execution. Even the Effies have “creativity” as one of the evaluation criteria within the overall effectiveness umbrella.

“If our industry is to progress and evolve along with the world, then it is imperative that we wake up to what is happening for the sake of our own survival.”

 

ALI REZ
Regional Executive Creative Director
Impact BBDO Middle East and Pakistan

 

Q.1 Which international award programs have you participated in as a juror?
Most of the global ones including Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity (twice), Clio Awards, D&AD Awards – focusing on design & art direction as the acronym suggests, APAC Effie Awards, The One Show, New York Festivals Advertising Awards, London International Awards; in addition to being President of the Jury at Spikes Asia Festival of Creativity and AdFest.

Q.2 Why is it important for Pakistani advertising agencies to participate in international advertising and creative awards?
For the same reason international agencies enter award shows: to make themselves better at the work they create for their clients, to raise their own standards and to nurture the disciplines of creativity and problem-solving. Most importantly, to not stagnate in mediocrity while learning from those who are doing amazing work.

Q.3 What stood out for you as the juror?
Shows like Cannes Lions and D&AD showcase the best thinking in the world for some of the most powerful brands. What stands out the most for me is that it really are the most creative solutions that catapult brands to enormous success. Also, creativity can solve a number of social problems, so problem-solving that shifts culture positively stands out in international award shows too.

Q.4 Why do we see only network agencies being able to participate in such awards from Pakistan?
Perhaps because international networks know the real value of what an award show can provide for its talent and the creativity they produce. The cost factor is a sad myth: there are plenty of international award shows that are free to enter, yet we hardly see any participation from Pakistan.

Q.5 How can non-network agencies make their participation viable?
By planning ahead. Make it an investment plan; focus on how they can win and what kind of PR that would generate for them. Also realize the dividends such participation will bring to the work they do for their clients and as a result to their own businesses.

Q.6 What are the criteria for winning the awards you have judged?
Every award show will have its own particular focus, yet effectiveness has become a judging criterion for most award shows, except for perhaps the more craft-focused ones, such as ADC Annual Awards. Different shows have different weightage though, so for instance D&AD is very tough on craft and design, while Effies will give a higher percentage to the effectiveness of an entry versus Spikes Asia which will give more percentage to the idea, but will still give a large chunk, sometimes 30% of the total points, to effectiveness. At the same time, Spikes Asia has a great focus on how distinct cultural nuances are tapped into.

 

ASSAM KHALID
Executive Creative Director & Head of Strategy
Ogilvy Pakistan

 

Q.1 Which international award programs have you participated in as a juror?
Ad Stars, Mobius Awards International Advertising Competition, Effie Pakistan, New York Festivals Advertising Awards and Spikes Asia Festival of Creativity.

Q.2 Why is it important for Pakistani advertising agencies to participate in international advertising and creative awards?
Well firstly, it gives the opportunity to our country to get represented on the international stage. Secondly, the correlation between effectiveness and award-winning work has been proven time and time again. Entering international award shows exposes industry professionals to the great work being produced around the world getting people in the mind-set of pushing creative boundaries and producing work which is more effective.
Hence entering award shows is imperative to the growth of our industry.

Q.3 What stood out for you as the juror?
The thing that stands out at every international award show is the sheer quality of great work. Most ideas are simple yet so brilliant that I feel like kicking myself for not having thought of them.

Q.4 Why do we see only network agencies being able to participate in such awards from Pakistan?
International awards are not limited to network agencies only and we see several independent advertising agencies from around the world not only entering such award shows, but winning as well. In fact, most award shows have a special award, much like the Agency of the Year and Network of the Year awards, where awards are given to the independent agency of the year too.
However, it does cost time and money to enter such award shows and perhaps network agencies have a better support system for this case compared to independent agencies. 

Q.5 How can non-network agencies make their participation viable?
The first thing would be to really study the cases of other award-winning work. Most of this can be found on the award show websites or YouTube. And then, the easiest way to participate would be to start by entering award shows that are free to enter, like Ad Stars. Each award show requires a case study that includes a write-up and a case film, which the award entrants are required to create according to the entry guidelines for each award as well as going through work available online of previous entrants.

Q.6 What are the criteria for winning the awards you have judged?
Again, each award show has its own scoring system and judging criteria, but all are looking for original creative ideas that solved marketing and advertising problems, effectively. For example Effie’s require a much more detailed explanation and proof of results and gives more weightage to effectiveness compared to other creative awards. Even within particular award programs, different categories have different weightages surrounding various aspects of an entry. For example, some categories purely judge the creativity and execution where the effectiveness does not matter.
Similarly certain award programs as well as certain categories in award programs also require teams to present their cases in-person. The rules must be read and understood prior to entering any award to stand the best chance of winning.

 

HIRA MOHIBULLAH
Executive Creative Director
BBDO Pakistan

 

Q.1 Which international award programs have you participated in as a juror?
I’ve been on the jury for The One Club: Young Guns, Ad Stars, New York Festivals, Ad Forum PHNX, Mobius Awards international advertising competition and Effie Pakistan, and have been invited to be a juror at D&AD, Clio and Gerety Awards (a powerful all-female jury) this year.

Q.2 Why is it important for Pakistani advertising agencies to participate in international advertising and creative awards?
I recently attended a talk by Director Samuel Bayer (of Smells Like Teen Spirit and American Idiot fame). When asked what inspires him, he candidly said, “Well I don’t mind being a little jealous…” and then added, “…of people’s creativity.”
And I thought what a way to put a positive spin on an unpopular emotion. The question to ask ourselves is, who do we want to be jealous of? How high are we going to set the bar of our own envy? If we don’t pit ourselves against international level work, does that mean we have failed to raise the creative benchmark for ourselves? This is why I think it’s important for us to compete in international awards; it’s a humbling experience to know where you stand and a much-needed impetus to do better.

Q.3 What stood out for you as a juror?
I’m a big fan of young talent, there’s so much to learn from the kind of unbridled creativity that you only find in that group. For that very reason, judging The One Club’s Young Guns was an incredibly awe-inspiring experience for me.
Looking at work from around the world by people under 30 also made me realize the dire lack of opportunities and exposure that younger creatives in Pakistan have. There’s so much untapped talent here and it only needs to be channeled right.

“Participating in award shows is expensive, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be done. The work has to be gold standard yes, but entering it into just the right category can boost your chances to win even further.”

Q.4  We only see network agencies participating in such awards from Pakistan. How can non-network agencies make their participation viable?
Participating in awards shows is expensive, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be done. A lack of funds doesn’t mean you don’t enter at all, it means you limit your number of entries by choosing the category and subcategory wisely. The work has to be gold standard yes, but entering it into just the right category can boost your chances to win even further.
This also has to do with setting the right KPI’s for the team. Our network and region lay a lot of emphasis on The Work that is effective and award-worthy, and that vision helps steer us in the right direction. This vision travels top-down, and is something even non-network agencies can adopt at the management level.

Q.5 What are the criteria for winning the awards you have judged?
Most shows have a set weightage on judging criteria divided between Challenge or Context & Objectives, Insight & Idea, Execution and Results. The criteria differs from show to show; Adstars and Effies, for example, both have 30% of the score assigned to the results and the remaining 70% is divided equally between the other three segments, while Clio lays emphasis on how innovative and creative the idea or execution is.
The most unique and rigorous judging format for me was Young Guns, where we had to go through 6 pieces of work by the entrants, followed by multiple rounds of voting; including a simple in-and-out vote, rating on a scale of 1-10 and a final discussion. The main focus was to see if the body of work was bold, showed impeccable craftsmanship and had a consistent sense of personal style.

Q.6 What should be a part of any entry to make it stand out?
Structure, rationale, clarity.
One way to judge a piece of work before you even start your entry is to see if you can explain it in a short 10 to 12 word sentence. The entry itself needs to show a clear understanding of the cultural context or background, the insight, how the creative was strategized, the idea and its execution and finally the results. Simplify as much as you can; the more you can say in lesser number of words makes all the difference.

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