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Amy Winger: “Effectiveness Is Not Wonky and Boring”

Awards and Events 493 Add to collection

Amy Winger, VMLY&R’s global chief strategy officer and global client lead for Intel sits down with LBB, in association with AME Awards, to discuss effectiveness and its nonlinear journey

Amy Winger: “Effectiveness Is Not Wonky and Boring”

AME Awards, the effectiveness focused award show from New York Festivals, has partnered with Little Black Book to sponsor the Awards & Events channel. This channel is a place for general news about award wins and any events being held, but it's also a place to discuss the trends impacting and changing award shows, such a prevalent part of our industry.

As part of this partnership, we'll be interviewing some of the advertising industry's brightest minds and most revered leaders on the meaning of effectiveness in 2021, the advertising awards landscape of the future, and just about anything and everything that might come up along the way. Up today is Amy Winger, VMLY&R’s global chief strategy officer and global client lead for Intel. 

LBB>I’d love to start with hearing what effectiveness means to you?

Amy>This is probably the hardest question I’ve had in months. It obviously means that the work works, but underneath that, if the work works, then there are all of these components that made us able to say that as a fact. 

I think about it as a vacation - if I’m talking with clients or a group at the agency who are struggling, the easiest way to describe effectiveness is by saying, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might not end up there.” So let’s look at it as a vacation: If you’re planning a winter break vacation, you don’t just go on a winter break vacation because that’s what you always do. But I think that’s what some brands do, for say, a summer promotion, they just do it, because it’s in the calendar, and maybe they don’t stop and ask: why are we doing this? 

Part of effectiveness is that there's a lot of jumping around and it looks like a linear process, but I don’t think it necessarily is in the whole understanding of it. I think it’s important that cleverness and effectiveness are thought of in the same breath. Effectiveness is not wonky and boring – it’s clever and is a non-linear journey to logical answer and is in the public domain of everybody who makes marketing. We could help ourselves by creating new language for it and associations with innovation and creativity.

Going back to the vacation analogy, if we say our intention is to ‘reclaim chill vibes’ and we’ve gone through a process of understanding that’s the intention, you can create a whole intention or marketing campaign around that, and it can drive the decisions. 

Do we blow all our Marriott points to the W beach? Should we stay across the street and save the points? Well no, if we really want to reclaim our chill vibes, let's stay on the beach and spend all of our points, and then let's make our dining decisions based on that and let's make our travel decisions based on that. As opposed to saying, let's just get the cheapest flights possible to wherever it is we're going. If we're really reclaiming chill vibes, it means we want the fewest number of stops possible. And then we stick to that and we end up with a really kick-ass vacation. 

I feel like I could lay down the vacation analogy on almost any project and come up with an effective programme. 

LBB>How has ‘effectiveness’ evolved? 

Amy>This is a tough one because there’s the timescale of it and the market you’re working in. I think about the UK - probably an unfair justification - and the IPA, and American advertising, which gets knocked for short-termism. So you have the church of longterm-ism and the church of short-termism, and they are different. 

The conversations in the jury room can be different because of how marketers in those two markets are brought up, and that’s so interesting as a dynamic. There’s the world of econometric analysis and then there’s the world of ‘Did it work on Twitter?’ and in the middle there’s an answer that is sustainable and could be used on many grounds. That middle term is what I’d argue for, and not every brand has sorted that out. 

So I think what has changed is that long-term still exists and we have the short-term channel metrics hanging around that show up in effectiveness entries. And there’s this place in the middle that’s enormous and isn’t fully explored but more and more is being written about it. Sometimes the rush from short-termism to long-termism can seem very difficult for brands. But there’s something in the middle that gets us to the strategy that has been missing. 

LBB>How can brands achieve effectiveness?

Amy>I’d want everyone who doesn’t have a modern effectiveness plan in place for ’22 to charter the ’23 plan now. Start now, re-think what success means, run pilots this year, restructure goals and roles and org and process and language, and make ’23 your year.

LBB>And across the board, where is the industry lacking?

Amy>I do see the real need for more training across the board, from clients to agencies to media platforms who are creating their own work. Not just for the sake of judging shows but for the work itself. Many organisations have cut back on training in general and, generally speaking, effectiveness training gets a bad rap. It sounds dull, when in fact when done well I’d argue it’s fun and useful and the benefits of the training to agency and brand have a multiplier effect for people and the work and the business.

LBB>What does the future of award shows look like to you?

Amy>What Cannes is doing with business transformation and creative effectiveness is really raising the profile of effectiveness. And so I hope that the rising tide lifts all the boats, and maybe this is a place back to the middle. 

Effectiveness is being brought out of this wonky strategy world and into more conversations. People are seeing that great work and work that accomplishes an objective don’t have to be different things. And when you see those cases where the great work did the job it was supposed to do, that’s killer, and then everyone gets inspired. And when people get inspired to do something, then there’s no stopping them. 

Practically, I do think it’s hard to judge remotely and have a great flow of conversation that really builds up a POV about the work, versus just “scores” – hopefully we will all get better at it over time, as I do appreciate that with video conference we can convene judging “rooms” with a very diverse set of judges from around the world.

LBB>And what campaigns stand out for their effectiveness?

Amy>Beyond canonical work like Audi and IBM’s Smarter Planet, the Wendy’s body of work is astounding as it works on multiple levels over time – a decade. I feel like it gets taken as magic or luck or short-termism but it’s all calculated, based on insight, with clear intentions and outcomes. It’s the unsung hero of effectiveness, I think, because it’s fun, funny, and is in QSR and highly digital and social. I think it should be the QSR case version of IBM Smarter Planet. 

Wendy's - Freezer Dig “Scrape By” campaign from 2016

The ‘PukkaPimms’ case struck me as so damn clever when I first read it many years ago, and as compared to REI Opt Outside or Smarter Planet, it’s very small so proves that effectiveness and cleverness can live everywhere. Today it also strikes me as a training tool for planners just starting out.

LBB>Finally, what’s your advice for people wanting to create effective work?

Amy>I think they should read cases. 10, 20 cases, read the ones that didn’t win, and get familiar with all of the examples. I think the vacation analogy or a similar analogy can help people get into the headscape of what this means. And then, we can just talk about it in normal human terms to each other. I think the language and vocabulary is a barrier for some people, because brands and agencies don’t have massive training budgets anymore. Read cases, and think about how to talk about this in plain language because then you get more people on board, and more clever people. Cleverness and effectiveness are not different things. 
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New York Festivals , Thu, 17 Feb 2022 16:06:15 GMT