The Star (Nairobi)

22 November 2012

Kenya: Clients, Allow Agencies to Take Creative Risks

opinion

As the story goes , the wrangling couple and their child find themselves in front of a judge. " Can I send you to live with your dad ?" The judge asks the little boy . "No! No! He beats me." The little boy answers frantically. " How about your mum ?", he asks, hoping to resolve the matter quickly . "She beats me too" he says .

Exasperated, the judge removes his spectacles and and asks, " So who do you want to live with my good fellow ?" The boy give it a thought and says " I want to live with Harambee Stars! " . Now perplexed, the judge asks why . " Because my Dad says they don't beat anybody."

Like the little boy, you might be wondering why you live and work with an agency that doesn't win any awards . You could have a lot more to do with this lack of awards than they do .

The two main awards for marketing and advertising in Kenya are the APA awards and the MSK Warrior awards . The former have not happened for close to a decade now , though word on the street is that something is in the works .

The latter happen every year and are seen more as effectiveness and peer awards . Creative awards are a rather complex business as they are often judged by panels whose books may vary from one event to the other .

Firstly they are craft awards which means that they will often judge for skills rather than how well consumers relate to an ad. As the ad industry focuses on telling society's stories through its brands, the skill with which these stories are told determines who gets the awards and that can be subjective .

To win awards an agency requires not just a better than average crop of creatives but also a bolder than average roster of clients .If you are telling stories to society about itself boldness is sometimes necessary .

A punch in the face for the consumers or a kick in the bottom for policy makers can be delivered through creativity . This takes guts to approve. Clients who take creative risks are thus rewarded with great work and often better results in the marketplace .

Great ideas are also often inexpensive and this is because most great ideas are simple. Thus clients who encourage creative risk taking are often rewarded with other things -media savings .

Clients must however be careful not to let the agency creative process become award driven as they and their brands have business to do .

As explained the rules of judging great creative work can differ greatly from the rules of everyday consumer engagement . The most awarded ad can easily be a marketing message flop from a consumer perspective.

Numerous campaigns have received creative awards only to be pulled from TV and replaced with mediocre looking but more effective work .

It is therefore about striking the balance between the arcane and what moves stuff from the shelves and sometimes it may not be the same ads .Frank is lead consultant at FMC and CEO at mobile agency Sponge .

Frank.maina@spongegroup.com

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