The 2015 edition of the Effie MENA Awards saw 23 campaigns walk away with the Gold trophy. We caught up with the winning agencies and the judges to learn what made the campaign tick, what didn’t and everything else that went on in the jury room. However, this time we turned the tables around and let the agency guys take over our jobs and play journalists for a day as they asked the judges everything they wanted to about their campaigns.
In this article, jury member Asad ur Rehman, media director, Unilever, and Tahaab Rais, regional head of planning, FP7 MENA, discuss Emirates NBD’s “Perspectives”.
Effie Awards won:
1 Gold: Best Use of CSR – Corporate Brands
“Perspectives” shed light on a much-ignored topic: children with disabilities, through a video that was eye-opening and emotionally moving. For Rehman, any entry that makes it to the shortlist is playing with the heart as well as the mind of the jury – even though the focus is more on the mind, i.e., the results. This entry won the hearts of all the jury members because it brought to life “the fact that special needs children have a role to play in life and it doesn’t have to be what we think of as effective roles,” says Rehman.
The campaign was also shortlisted in five other categories, including Brand Experience and Banking, but didn’t win any awards. Rehman points out that Brand Experience, for instance, had a lot of tough competition. “Perspectives” made the audience experience certain feelings, but those had nothing to do with what consumers do inside a bank.
He admits that Best Use of CSR – Corporate Brands is a tough category to judge because you’re wondering if a brand is doing a CSR activity sincerely or just for the sake of appearing responsible – and this was a matter of debate in the jury room. For instance, the case study mentions that education for special needs children is thrice as expensive as education for children without disabilities. “So, we were wondering if Emirates NBD, being a financial institution, had a role to play in making that education accessible and it didn’t come out really well in the entry,” says Rehman. Turns out that even though “Perspectives” was created as a content piece, the vision behind it has paved the way for the second leg of the program, called “Together Limitless”. The bank is now empowering people with disabilities to not just be funded financially but also be integrated in the workforce – through vocational training as well working at the bank itself.
For Rehman, the social responsibility has to be embedded in the business. So, the most effective CSR campaign is one that does something good, but ends up benefiting the business because of that – and not just in terms of brand perception. At the end of the day, “There’s a lot of stuff going wrong in the world, but do you as a brand have a right to live in that space and can you actually play a role? [That] is the most important question to ask,” says Rehman.