Text of June 7, 2005, Keynote Remarks

By Published on .

Also See Main Story:

Text of Effies keynote speech given by Cheryl Berman, chairman and chief creative officer of Leo Burnett USA of Chicago, on June 7 in New York.

~ ~ ~

I am very proud to be here tonight, as we honor the teams winning gold, silver and bronze. Leo Burnett is a huge fan of the Effies and what they stand for. We are passionate about these awards and we actually train our people in the importance and significance of the Effies. Because, as Leo believed, there is nothing more important than effectiveness, which should make the Effies the most coveted awards in our industry.

Then why is it an Effie is not as prestigious as a Cannes Lion? Why is it Effies are not an award that is considered in the Gunn Report? And why is it I haven’t seen Lee Clow, Dan Weiden or Jeff Goodby here tonight? If I missed them please accept my apologies. But I will tell you I am quite sure none of these creative leaders were present when we were judging.

The fact is, many of our creative leaders back out of judging the Effies at the last minute. It happens. I’ve been there. But how many of these same judges have backed out of judging at Cannes? The answer is none. It’s unheard of. Why? Because the Effies as an award show -- as a coveted prize, as the most sought after statue in the business -- is right on the edge of either emerging as the industry award or eventually becoming a commodity.

If we all believe the Effies should be the most coveted award in the industry, then they must be about effective creativity, not just effective results or effective communication or effective effectiveness -- but about effective creative.

We all know some products or services sell with absolutely no advertising or marketing behind them. We also know some products with really bad advertising and marketing fly off the shelves. But I think we all believe brilliant work -- big ideas -- [and] breakthrough creative can and will be more effective than mindless, tasteless, thoughtless clutter. As the Leo quote behind me says, one of the greatest dangers of advertising is not that of misleading people, but that of boring them to death.

And the good news is studies have been done to validate the fact that award-winning creative does sell. I’m talking about awards that exclusively celebrate creativity. Over 80% of that creatively acclaimed work over the last few years has achieved favorable results in the marketplace.

So tonight I’m putting a challenge out there. I’m taking this opportunity to ask you to help the Effies achieve a better balance between effectiveness and creativity.

What, you may ask, can you do? Agencies can send your top creative leaders to be judges. 50% of the judges should come from a creative discipline, if we want to raise the bar creatively. We must get the creative leaders of our industry to participate in these awards. We also have to challenge the New York chapter of the American Marketing Association to revamp the judging criteria so that there is the right balance between creativity and effectiveness. And winning has to be less about writing the entries and more about the quality of work we are entering. I believe we’re all a little guilty of this.

Now you might sit here thinking this tirade is a little hypocritical. Perhaps. The truth is I am proud to be here. I am proud of the work we’ve done with our clients to take home a dozen Effies tonight. And the fact is, you will see a lot of brilliant creative work here tonight. But not enough -- the Effies are not the best award show in the business. And my point is they should be. This business has changed and like it or not, we will all be judged on results. And this award show is positioned to be all about results. Our clients seem to understand that and celebrate that. Our clients already recognize the importance and relevance of these awards in today’s world.

But at the end of the day, the question becomes are we awarding just the result, or are we rewarding the result of great creative?

I believe this show is about -- should be about -- awarding the results of brilliant creative. The effectiveness of brilliant ideas and execution in the marketplace. This is what we should all strive for. Every member of the team, including the creatives, should want more than anything to do brilliant work that moves the business ahead. And if we can all agree on that and vote on that, if we can award that and celebrate that, this will truly be the most coveted award in the business.

Most Popular
In this article: