PARTHA SINHA, President of The Advertising Club and MITRAJIT BHATTACHARYA, Chairperson of Effie Awards India 2021, decode the ‘effectiveness’ quotient of marketing communications in pandemic year
When the Advertising Club hosted the Effie Awards India 2021 in a virtual ceremony recently, it was not just a celebration of the best work by agencies and clients with ‘effectiveness’ at the core of their marketing and advertising communication, it was also a triumph of the human spirit in pandemic year. With the Ad Club receiving a record 950 entries and participation of 51 agencies, it was encouraging to see a stellar quality of work created by agencies despite the odds.
Says Partha Sinha, President of the Advertising Club, “Like every year, this year also the Effies celebrated great thinking and execution. But for me what stood out this year was that the brands behaved in a much more socially integrated manner. A major part of this year’s date eligibility fell in the COVID period. There were enough and more examples of how brands were helping people navigate through this difficult time. In the most difficult period of recent human history, the brands became human. This was the most encouraging aspect for me. Who says brand marketing is cold and commercial? A lot of brands showed a lot of heart during this period and were suitably rewarded for it.”
Rising to the challenge
Mitrajit Bhattacharya, Chairperson of the Ad Club’s Effies, who has been involved with the Effie India Awards for four years now, says hosting the Effies this year was a very different challenge. “We were first concerned whether there would be enough work considering the country was under lockdown for most parts of 2020 and even during the deadly second wave that hit us in 2021. We were pleasantly surprised with the numbers finally - 950 entries are a record in the history of Effies in India,” he adds.
Hosting a virtual event was a first in the history of Effies India. The entire jury process was conducted online, with 520 judges judging close to 50 categories of awards that included the Grand Effie. Pointing out the highlights, Bhattacharya says, “What stood out for me are: 1. Consistency of McCann in winning the agency of the year, fourth time in a row. 2. Ability of Ogilvy to churn out good quality work and consistently winning the coveted Grand Effie. They have four golds that included a Grand Effie this year. 3. Glorious return of Lowe after a gap of two years. Their performance has been exemplary, winning five golds and nine silvers this year. 4. Continued dominance of HUL as the client of the year. The sheer quality of work across brands is unbeatable, quite literally. 5. Mondelez's steady rise to the second position (with just a gap of 8 points with HUL at the top and more than a 40 points gap with the third position).”
The effectiveness goalpost
Listing some ‘effectiveness’ insights gleaned over years of observing transformative marketing campaigns, Sinha says, “Some of the fundamentals of effectiveness would be - Big brand thinking is not about finding a marketing solution to a marketing problem but finding a human solution to a marketing problem. Effectiveness is not efficiency – it’s much bigger than that. It’s never about doing the things rightly but doing the right thing. Effective communication never focuses on the output but on the outcome. ROI for effective brand communications don’t stand for return on investment but return on ideas.”
Reiterating that Effie rewards ‘work that works in the marketplace’, Bhattacharya says, “Brands and agencies have made ‘effectiveness’ their goalpost. And that’s the only purpose of any good campaign. Effie Awards link objective to execution to results of campaigns in a structured manner with the highest weightage given to results. In the past few years, the agencies have started writing cases better, sharper and more focused. Presenting a case well is as important as a good campaign in winning an Effie award.”
Growing the movement
While the Ad Club’s Effie Committee is planning smaller workshops across Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru to take the culture of effectiveness forward, it is also partnering with key agencies across the three cities to host these events where creators of some of the winning campaigns from Effies 2021 will share insights with young agency practitioners. “We are working out the modalities,” says Bhattacharya.
“For the Ad Club, Effie is no longer a month of contest and a night of celebration. We want to foster a culture of effectiveness across the entire ecosystem – agencies, clients and media. One of the key steps for that would be to get the younger people involved. The objective of our upcoming workshops is to get seasoned professionals to interact with the youngsters about the changing dynamics of effective brand comms. Three large agencies have agreed to host them,” explains Sinha.
Rating India’s performance at the Effies at the APAC and global levels over the years, Sinha says, “India has always performed very well in the global stage as far as effective work is concerned. Indian brands have won the Grand Prix, been the numero uno agency globally and so on. The most important reason for that I find advertising and marketing in India to be a lot more mainstream than many other countries. Advertising is still a significant part of popular culture in India.”