DDB APAC boss John Zeigler: clients still don’t understand the value of awards

John Zeigler

John Zeigler

Clients still do not appreciate the value of awards shows in fostering creativity, John Zeigler, the APAC boss of DDB and a former client has said ahead of the Cannes Lions advertising festival, which kicks off tomorrow.

“Despite client attendance at the [Cannes Lions] festival rising, I believe there are still many brands that don’t fully understand the benefits of pursuing great creativity,” he said in a post on LinkedIn today.

“I know this well because I used to be a client and I know I didn’t really understand creative awards. All I cared about was building a programme that would support my business goals and motivate my sales force to sell and hopefully stimulate customers to trial my product. My focus was on whether I sold to my estimates and achieved my financial targets.”

Zeigler also suggested that clients do not appreciate the need to produce high-class creative work and do not look for ad agencies known for their creativity.

He said: “I also believe many brands don’t care much about what is best-in-class, or at least don’t appreciate the need for producing great creative work. Worse still, when brands are looking for a new agency there’s definitely not enough focus on creativity.”

Clients rank chemistry, strategic capability and cost ahead creativity in their list of priorities for finding an agency, he argued.

Zeigler said he believes many clients think awards are a practice in “navel gazing” and “patting each other on the back”, which while he conceded that “to some degree this is true” clients needed to see awards shows as an opportunity for the ad industry to show what it is capable of.

Zeigler’s comments come soon after DDB’s global chief creative officer Amir Kassaie said that he was not opposed to agency’s producing concept work to win awards – which he called prototyping – as long as the majority of the work an agency produces is genuine work and for genuine clients.

In Zeigler’s LinkedIn post, he appealed to clients to see highly creative campaigns as a way to differentiate brands from their competition and to generate better business results.

“Said another way, great creativity will help clients keep their jobs longer and will enable them to be paid more and be promoted to higher levels. Creativity as a business success model is a client’s secret weapon,” he said.

He pointed to two year-old research from UK ad industry body the IPA that found that award-winning work is 12 times more effective than non-awarded work.

“I believe this is one of the most important findings in our industry at a time when creativity is being undervalued against media efficiency and at a time when creativity is being killed off in the search for blind cost management goals,” he wrote.

Zeigler challenged clients to reduce their media spend and reallocate resource to the development better creative thinking, what he called “ideas that are bigger than the media plan”.

Zeigler is one of the judges on the Creative Effectiveness jury at Cannes this year.


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