Garrett admits that judging on the Creative Effectiveness jury isn’t really about determining if an idea is creative or not — that job’s already been done by other jury members by the time the work enters this category. What Garrett is looking out for is work that’s made the biggest difference to the client’s bottom line, and work that has genuinely initiated behavioural change.
And he should know. During Garrett’s five years at Colenso BBDO, the agency has doubled in size and was the only agency to be ranked in the top five creative agencies globally in the Big Won report three years in a row, and in 2014 was ranked by WARC the most effective agency in the world.
"There is no more important a job in our industry right now than to fundamentally and consistently link the power of creativity with business success and communication effectiveness. Our industry has many of the world’s greatest creative minds working in it with the potential to solve business and social problems through creative thinking,” he says, on his Spikes presidential intro.
Here he catches up with LBB to discuss his plan for judging Spikes and some of the worrying creative trends he came across at Cannes this year, which he hopes will bring about some ‘uncomfortable’ but needed conversations amoungst Asia’s adland elite.
LBB> How are you preparing yourself for your stint in the jury room at Spikes?
Nick Garrett> I’m pretty clear with what I want to get out of the judging and I’m clear on the type of work I’d like to see be successful. The only real preparation you need to do is to have a clear point of view and to do your homework in terms of pre-reading and watching, well in advance of the show.
LBB> What words of advice will you be giving to your jury?
NG> The advice I’ll be giving to everyone is you are not judging on whether you like the work or not, as other juries have decided that for you by the time you see this category. As a jury, you are determining whether it was effective, and while there is a lot of powerful cause and charity work, and brands doing good through their communications, I’ll be encouraging people to think with their heads not their hearts. I want the jury to interrogate the results and look for significant impact based on communications - well written papers, clear objectives and outcomes with clear ROI we can evaluate.
I’d like to see more brands making a big difference - big work, not small and tactical. I want to see significant results outside of the cause and charity categories. Too much of the work is easily cause related. I’d like to see the brands turn up and work that had scale be celebrated - if they don’t, then there’s not much we can do about it.
LBB> What kind of campaigns do you hope to reward in the Creative Effectiveness category?
NG> I will be encouraging people to vote for bigger and bolder strategic thinking for big brands that have permeated popular culture and have proved successful over a significant period of time; campaigns that show tangible results for a business or organisation.
LBB> Obviously you’re going to spend a lot of time locked inside for jury deliberations… but is there any event or talk your hoping to catch while you’re there?
NG> There will be but I haven’t got across all the content so far. I am looking forward to meeting my jury and spending time with a few clients while I am there. I look forward to catching up with my industry colleagues and doing my own presentation.
LBB> What do you think the big talking point (aside from the awards!) is likely to be at Spikes this year?
NG> I think we saw Cannes at a crossroads this year, the festival of creativity has a decision to make regarding which path it wants to take. While many of the recent changes are positive, a lot of people aren’t at Cannes for the work anymore and while the conversation around business is good for the industry the level of hype and distraction has intensified uncomfortably in the last two years. I also feel Cannes showed a worrying trend towards celebrating smaller ideas, and we saw less great work from brands than I can remember for years, so I did walk away from Cannes feeling the quality of the overall work wasn’t as strong. This is worrying for Asia at a time where we are all trying very hard to increase the creative profile of the region and Spikes has a role to play here. In fact, it was the worst year in terms of the depth and quality of work on show. So, what does that mean for Asia?
Asia should be considering its creative output versus its growth and economic power. For example, the region is under performing on a global scale compared to South and Latin America - these regions are no more sophisticated economically, yet they are hotbeds of creativity. I think we should have that uncomfortable conversation. Asia hasn’t hit its creative stride yet.