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Marketing RAPP Cannes Lions

We should be chasing altruism, not awards

By Al Mackie | Chief creative officer



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December 7, 2021 | 4 min read

Judging the DMAs is always an enjoyable experience. Not only do you get to see all the great work from the year, but the awards ceremony in December tends to feel like the start of the festive season – ‘tis the season of goodwill and all that.

RAPP suggest focusing on creating more meaningful and honest work rather than spending energy on award wins.

Rapp suggests focusing on creating more meaningful and honest work rather than spending energy on award wins

With those warm festive feels in mind, one thing that stood out though was the decline in entries focused on measurement – particularly for work in the third sector. We’ve seen some excellent creativity in this category in recent years, including Uncommon’s campaign for ITV during Mental Health week, #StillSpeakingUp and smaller budget pieces such as MRM’s greetings cards for pregnancy loss. But these examples aside, it feels like this kind of work still needs to be held to the same standards as commercial work and not just virtue signaling for the sake of awards.

How many creatives ask themselves why they get involved in this sector and what reason they have to be there? To be authentically creative in this field, we must be sure we’re not being motivated by the chase for accolades. And that purpose-led work shifts the needle to improve coverage and knowledge around organizations so that they’re the ones that benefit.

At Cannes this year, I judged a piece of work focused on helping thousands of homeless people find work. This ‘world-first’ social solution had incredible responses, but only 15 people seemed to find employment. The entry didn’t specify the exact number and in this instance the jurors weren’t fooled. However, the results fascinated me because my brother works with governments and NGOs on strategies for homelessness and shadow economies.

One project he worked on tracked the stories of thousands of individuals from employment to homelessness. It then went on to work out the exact point a £100 investment could alter their outcome. Which means, by my rough maths, the same agency could have helped three times as many people with its Cannes entry fees alone.

Imagine if we had to disclose how much money was spent on award entries and finely-polished entry films alongside the funds raised for the campaign. Probably no need to go that far. What if agencies could only enter work if their total spend on entry fees and films is lower than the funds raised? Too Squid Games?

Studies suggest pure altruism is rare, but the kick we get from helping others can create a mutually beneficial scenario. Award juries have the opportunity to make sure the third sector benefits as much as possible from James Andreoni’s warm glow theory and the creative expertise being given away.

Perhaps refocusing on results will bring us closer to the audiences and individuals we’re trying to talk to. Better still, our creativity will power more meaningful change and we can confidently celebrate great and honest work. Wouldn’t that be a great Christmas gift from the industry?

Al Mackie, chief creative officer at Rapp UK.

Marketing RAPP Cannes Lions

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RAPP is a global, data-driven creative community that builds direct, meaningful and high-value relationships between brands and people. At RAPP, with our unrivalled depth of expertise in first-party data, we’ve been observing and cataloguing real people’s lives for 50 years. In today’s world the balance of power has shifted, and customers are in control, which is why we put people and their preferences at the heart of the brand experience. With a talent base of more than 1,600 professionals in 18 offices, we help brands grow the value of real people by understanding what really matters and creating experiences that are right for real people, with real needs, in real time, creating marketing that matters. Our expertise in data and marketing sciences allows us to deliver our clients actionable human insight - an incredible understanding of genuine motivations, observed transactions and actual interactions. Our process reflects how real people think; we balance the left brain and the right, and we do our best work when we bring Precision and Empathy into balance. Building on our data foundation, RAPP delivers a range of capability across social, digital, customer experience and technology.

RAPP is proud to employ talented people across the US, the UK, Argentina, France, Germany, China, Singapore, Australia, Mexico, Bangkok and Dubai, and we actively foster an inclusive workplace where diversity and individual differences are valued and leveraged to achieve our vision.

RAPP is part of Omnicom Precision Marketing Group, a division of the DAS Group of Companies.

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