There’s no dearth of advertising award shows and, sometimes, winning can do more harm than good. This is why FP7 fundamentally focuses on the Effie Awards, Cannes Lions and the Dubai Lynx Awards.
The global Effie Effectiveness Index has ranked FP7/DXB as the Most Effective Individual Agency – Global this year. The agency has been steadily climbing through the index, going from fourth place in 2014 to second in 2015 and finally bagging the top spot in 2016.
We caught up with FP7/UAE’s CEO, Sasan Saeidi, to talk awards, creativity, efficiency and what all of these mean for advertising.
For FP7, winning starts at home. It’s about getting “the fundamentals right within the agency” and then choosing the right clients: “Invest in the quality of thinking we have internally and clients who can dream the dream with you,” says Saeidi.
Winning tends to have a ripple effect, with more clients wanting to ‘dream the dream’ and, so, the pool keeps increasing every year. “We started with Emirates NBD and Coke… Now Majid Al Futtaim wants to be on that stage with us next year,” Saeidi says. Moreover, clients who get shortlisted develop a stronger drive to win next year.
Obviously, this fosters a healthy relationship between agency and client. Winning an Effie is not just an achievement for the agency, but for the client also, because “an Effie is a very important evaluation of the marketing director,” says Saeidi. “You’ve shown ROI and they should promote you for this.”
In fact, clients are now helping the agency with the entry as well and they’ve also become savvy about what each award show stands for. And, once they see work that works, “they trust you and it develops over time,” adds Saeidi.
The thing about winning is that it becomes a habit and, as clients’ trust increases, so do their expectations. “You’re only as good as your last award or your last ad, as they say,” notes Saeidi.
Work that works
Clients’ involvement in award shows is good for any agency, but is this move coming from their appreciation of awards or due to the business results of the winning work? Saeidi says it should always be about work that actually addresses a business problem: “That’s why we started to push toward creativity that matters. If you do that, everything else falls into place.”
And today, it’s not just agencies scrambling for budgets. “Clients also don’t have the luxury of budgets. So, even they don’t want to enter awards just for the sake of it,” adds Saeidi.
The price of creativity
Sometimes, challenges are the breeding ground for innovation. So, a difficult environment could serve as the groundwork for more efficient advertising. While a creative idea is never dependent on budget, its amplification is, says Saeidi. As an example, he cites work coming out of South America and Brazil – places that have never had big budgets, but showed great creativity.
With today’s cluttered media scene and fragmented consumption habits, it’s more important than ever to not just create great work, but to also disseminate it – which especially matters in award shows, because, as Saeidi says: “No matter how great the idea, the judges have to look at what its scale has been.”
Mind your business
The growth of digital – a space seemingly dominated by media agencies – has helped with amplification and scale, at arguably better cost-efficiency, which may sometimes give media agencies the upper hand at award shows.
“I don’t see anything wrong with media agencies entering award shows, but I do mind when people forget their core competencies,” says Saeidi. He firmly believes in integration, but admits that “it’s a shame on creative agencies” that haven’t invested in the right data analytics and tools.
However, it all comes down to the company’s culture. “No matter what they do, media agencies don’t have that creative culture embedded into their entities,” Saeidi asserts.
So, for now, his focus remains on core competencies and coexistence, even though he sees companies going back to the old integrated model in the future.
“It’s a bit ego-crushing: everyone is doing creative and digital – and we’re competing with everyone. But, if we want to survive as a pure creative industry, we need to change our model. Let’s be more about clients and less about egos,” he says.