Editorial: Effies could be so much more

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The best thing about last week's Effies wasn't the presentation (long-winded). Or the chicken (baked). Or the measures of marketing effectiveness for winning entries (half-baked). No, the best thing about the show was the challenge leveled by Cheryl Berman for the Effies to define and celebrate "effective creativity."

In her keynote, Leo Burnett USA's chairman-chief creative officer said the Effies "should be the most coveted awards in our industry." Right on. The Effies, after all, are supposed to measure what counts: marketing effectiveness.

Ms. Berman offered her gutsy critique on the night that Burnett took home 12 Effies, marking the fourth consecutive year it was top winner. Burnett prospered under the old rules and so it is commendable that Ms. Berman is prodding the industry to raise the Effies' bar.

However, turning the Effies into the most important show will require an awful lot more than the involvement of the creative leaders singled out by Ms. Berman.

The biggest problem with this show is that it too often rewards ad agencies that know how to prepare an Effies entry, rather than rewarding real marketing effectiveness. The case studies submitted for many of the winning campaigns were imprecise promotional materials, not proof of return on investment.

Granted, proving marketing ROI isn't easy. But the Effies can do better. It should start by focusing on the marketers, their goals and their achievements against those goals, rather than being almost exclusively about ad agencies. Advertising is only one of a host of tools that deliver the sales results the Effies claim to celebrate. If we really want this show to be about marketing effectiveness, it will have to be the marketer, not the agency, in the winner's circle (with whichever agencies it chooses to credit for the results).

But we're unconvinced that the show's backer, the New York American Marketing Association, has the gumption to make such moves to reward marketing in its entirety-price, place, product and all forms of promotion-because it's the ad agencies that pay to enter and attend the event.

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