The Drum Awards

Scottish Advertising Awards 2007 judging

By The Drum, Administrator

August 23, 2007 | 5 min read

Hegarty Hates

Hegarty had previously chaired the ad awards, and – again to mark the 21st anniversary – he was joined by other chairmen from previous years who served as jurors this time round. They included Alfredo Marcantonio, Roger Kennedy, Paul Shearer and John Scully.

Their nominations for the Scottish Ad Awards will be announced at a Nominations Party in Glasgow on 4 September – with the winners themselves being revealed at a gala dinner on Friday 26 October 2007 at the Hilton, Glasgow.

Until then, everyone involved has been sworn to secrecy about who has been nominated for what. But the day also highlighted some general trends that are driving the business north of the border – some of which offer a cause for celebration, others a cause for concern.

On a positive note, some great advertising work is still being produced in Scotland. On a more negative footing, the work is being created in an environment of increasing adversity.

Major commercial clients were perhaps under-represented this year – with public sector work being much more evident than in previous years. Ads telling us to eat more fruit, refrain from stabbing people and why burning the house down was a bad idea, were evident at every turn.

And where big brands were present they tended not to win. It is almost as though some – although not all – of Scotland’s biggest spending clients have stopped investing in creativity. They have given up the hunt for that cut-through idea – and have instead decided to concentrate on the 365 days a year sale.

Hegarty, said he believes that the awards themselves prove that the talent does exist in Scotland to provide great work for many of its key companies. However, the fact that this work is not getting through is part of a malaise which is affecting and threatening the global advertising community as a whole.

Finance is currently driving the industry, not creativity.

“The business has been taken over by large corporations – WPP is a case in point – and this is destroying the industry. “There seems a real dearth of talent out there. I would like to see more groups of people, starting their own agencies and really focussing on what they believe – rather than looking to go public within three years.

“Some agencies that start-up are talking about selling out within weeks, not how they are going to make the work better. “It is absolutely tragic and it will come back to bite us all – because in the end, if the work is not good enough, clients will say, ‘advertising is not working; we’ll have to find new ways to reach the consumer’.”

But of course, as well as agencies themselves becoming more globalised, clients too are working on a more international footing.

“What is happening now is that people who are buying work are working on a much more global basis.

“I suppose it is a bit like pushing a piece of string, the agency comes up with a great idea, then it goes to central marketing, who then send it out to all their regions. Then you get a message back saying the idea is not to go ahead.

“But there is nobody you can go to and say, ‘actually you are wrong.’ In the past a key part of advertising was how the agency sold the work. It was about convincing the client and having a real relationship where you talked about ideas. “Now it is completely out of our hands. So we are coming up with some wonderful work that disappears into a black hole simply because some anonymous central marketing department says it researched badly in Serbia.”

Hegarty argues that if the industry is to survive then it has to get back to basics.

“Agencies and clients have to remember that good advertising succeeds because people want to watch it. And that is increasingly important in a world where people can so easily switch off (mind you they have always been able to switch off. In the past they did it in their heads. Today they simply flick to another channel).

“So we have to create the sort of work that people talk about. And that is true for anybody making programmes, or writing newspaper articles, or publishing books, but particularly true for people in advertising; because nobody really wants ads, they only look at them if they are good.”

As well as globalisation, issues such as media fragmentation are adding to the challenges according to Hegarty. However, he believes that too many clients are forgetting a key dynamic when planning media schedules.

“Media fragmentation is inevitable. But what many forget is fame is what a brand needs.

“And a brand is not only made famous by people buying it, but by people knowing about it. You may admire a brand, and even if you do not buy it, that still adds value. “That is why I always think the line about ‘50% of my advertising being wasted, but I do not know which half’, is possibly the most stupid thing ever said about advertising. The man just did not appreciate the value of fame.”

The Scottish Advertising Awards Nominations Exhibition is launched on September 4 at Sloans Restaurant off Glasgow’s Buchanan Street. For further information contact Katy Thomson on 0141 559 6062.

Sir John Hegarty (front) oversees the high profile panel as the Scottish Advertising Awards judging gets underway

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