Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

The Association for Communication and Advertising (ACA) announced the opening of the entry season for Apex 2017 last week. The Apex awards recognise advertising and communication campaigns that are commendable not only for their creativity, but also because they demonstrate tangible results and return on investment.

Yellowwood’s Andy Rice has been involved with the Apex awards for the past 20 years, both as judge and as chairman. He says that while there is no argument that any business will want to see the results of how well its advertising investment has worked, in the past this has been easier said than done. The reason for this is a lack of tools to show convincingly that an investment has provided the relevant returns or led to the desired objectives.

The need to provide objective results in return for a marketing investment makes sense, particularly as budgets tighten in tougher economic climates, says Rice. And while we have come a long way in terms of being able to show how effective a campaign has been for a brand or business, there are still a number of challenges facing agencies. Apex entry is hard work, says Rice. One of the biggest challenges is the ability to distinguish between chronology and causation. Chronology is what is happening with a brand while the campaign is taking place and is purely coincidental, while causation shows that a certain result can be directly attributed to the campaign itself – which is what the judges are looking for, Rice explains.

He points out that to be able to measure effectiveness and causation, it’s important to find a base line – an indication of where the brand was before the campaign launched that will make it possible to measure the results of the campaign. This points to the need for continuous tracking studies, often a challenge for smaller clients, as this resource is simply not available to them.

Rice says Apex judges understand the importance of looking beyond big brands, as such brands often have every tracking resource available at their fingertips. “If we’re not looking at the ways in which the smaller players such as startups and entrepreneurs show marketing efficacy, we’re essentially weakening the impact of Apex,” he says.

Apex judges are able to use their discretion and look at what Rice terms “degrees of difficulty” during the judging process. For example, it will be harder for a brand operating in a highly competitive, even cut-throat category to show a 5% increase in sales volume than for a brand in a different environment to show a 10% rise. 

Compulsory briefing sessions for those wishing to enter Apex this year will be taking place on  January 24 in Johannesburg and on January 26 in Cape Town.

The big take-out: Entries for 2017’s Apex awards have opened. Yellowwood’s Andy Rice talks about the importance of proving the effectiveness of advertising and communications campaigns, and points out that there are still some challenges inherent in the process. 

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