‘I hope to see marketers and agencies jumping off metaphorical cliffs together’, Wrigley’s Nicole McMillan on 2017 awards hopes

Nicole McMillan, vice-president of marketing in APAC, The Wrigley Company on creativity versus effectiveness

Delivering brave work that delivers on real business results is key for winning awards, says Nicole McMillan, vice-president of marketing in APAC, The Wrigley Company.

In the US, SXSW is going full steam, Ad Fest is around the corner in Thailand and before long it’ll be rose time in Cannes. However, winning awards meaningfully is a tricky tack. McMillan is one of the heads of juries at this year’s Effie awards in Asia Pacific and, speaking ahead of the awards, she said that work has to be brave but also bring bottom line value.

“I really hope to see marketers and agencies holding hands and jumping off metaphorical cliffs together to deliver brave work that has truly driven business results,” she said.

She also stressed that creativity and effectiveness should drive one another. “Creativity and effectiveness should not be mutually exclusive, rather they should exist in a symbiotic relationship when it comes to marketing. While it could be argued there are effective campaigns that may not exhibit high levels of creativity, these are pretty rare."

However, when creativity and effectiveness don’t match up this often wasn’t due to the execution or the agency but because the client hasn’t communicated the challenge, according to McMillan.

“In most cases effectiveness comes from a creative solution to a problem, or a creative application of a fundamental human insight. To really strike gold and deliver real business results, creativity must be applied to the correct business problem. Many times we do see creativity for creativity’s sake which often comes about when clients have not distilled down what the key issue or challenge is. The most effective cases I have seen start with a really tight definition of the challenge to be solved so any creativity that is applied can be leveraged for maximum effect,” she added.

McMillan added that this isn’t necessarily intentional and that a lot of the time, being risk averse is what is holding back campaigns from having the sweet spot of being both creative and effective.

“Marketers don’t sign up to deliver work that is not creative or not effective. However, they at times unwittingly sacrifice effectiveness inadvertently by being risk averse. That old cliché of ‘no one got fired for doing X (or today having a facebook page)’! But is it truly creative and effective? In many cases a Facebook page can be highly creative and relevant but the key is in how it is leveraged uniquely.”

She explained; “To deliver great creativity requires a level of risk taking and being brave. The extent to which marketers are willing to be brave can be determined by a whole lot of factors relating to them personally as practitioners and the culture or business environment in which they operate.”

But a key issue in APAC, particularly when the judging process is taken out of market and into the global stage, is that the work sometimes doesn’t seem to measure up. Indeed APAC didn’t perform well at last year’s Cannes, compared to other markets. McMillan says that brands submitting work must always work hard to explain the cultural nuances in its markets.

“It’s definitely important to consider the cultural nuances of the market, however you can broaden this statement out and say It’s about the context of where the work has taken place. Now this could be cultural context, or it could also be situational in terms of the market conditions: the competitive landscape, the evolution or maturity of the category or brand or economic or social forces at play. The best cases always give the reader an insight into what the context was in the market, which could have been as simple as adapting a global idea. So yes, cultural nuance plays a key part or there could also be a complex myriad of conditions present. The more the case calls these out makes the judging process a lot simpler and can really define the difference between a strong and weak case,” she explained.

The importance of this is because relevance is in direct correlation to an ad’s relevance and can be the determining factor between a good and a bad campaign.

“Poor marketing campaigns often miss the relevancy point. It’s pretty unusual that poor campaigns produce highly negative responses in consumers. The most common issue with ineffective work is it just didn’t get noticed, and if you don’t get noticed then how can you expect a response or a business result?” she asked.

The final of the Effies awards takes place on 21 April 2017.

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