4th May, 2019 marked the start of a new era in Pakistani advertising when the first ever Effie awards were held at the Global Marquee. The event was as expected, well-attended by the advertising fraternity. There was as always an air of expectation and anticipation. Nominees were present to find out whether their efforts had paid off and the rest of the industry was there to socialise, because without doubt it was a night to see and be seen.
The event, unlike PAS awards in the past, did not drag and when I arrived around 9:15p.m., I was informed that there was hardly an hour to go. The ambiance was impressive and the event was well-organised. Coming to the awards, the event seemed to be dominated by Adcom and Ogilvy, with each taking home awards in multiple categories. A surprise came when Marketer of the Year went jointly to Unilever and Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola was expected but it’s a great achievement for Unilever to win this coveted award. The Grand Effie, the local Grand Prix so to speak, went worthily to BBDO’s Bridal Uniform and a joyful Ali Rez stepped up on stage to receive the award.
PAS has been organising awards since 2011 or so and many looked forward to the coming of Effies as a step up in the industry and a leap forward of sorts. Hopes were that bringing international awards to Pakistan would add more rigour and better judging and results. There is no doubt that Effie Pakistan is a platform for local campaigns to reach the regional and global level with help from PAS. BBDO has, in the recent past, brought awards back home from Lynx and Spikes, so now, hopefully as an industry, Pakistani advertising will learn from the region and the world.
Can there be an event in our country without it being criticised? Apparently, not even a wedding is spared from the cynical eye and tongue. Immediately after the event, there were those who felt that nothing had changed and that the name was different but the process and outcome the same. Some felt that everyone seemed to have won and others, that the usual suspects had triumphed again. In one of the new categories, David vs. Goliath, some felt that Nescafe, who was one of the winners, was in no way an underdog and their huge budgets needed to be taken into account.
It is obvious that what is creative differs for different people. The generally accepted definition is: advertising that works is creative. Keeping that in mind, Effie is the best yardstick for measuring creativity as it focuses on effectiveness. One criticism of the process that might seem valid is the fact that perhaps there were too many judges involved. Another issue that is not restricted to Effie Pakistan, is the lack of access to the case study submissions. Awards worldwide are awarded not only on merit but on the basis of how well the case is presented. There needs to be a database where people can go and see the entries and also learn from them as an industry. Another area of improvement is a special category for SMEs and start-ups to participate and display their work.
Effie has come to Pakistan at a time when many are expecting Cannes to decrease in popularity, while ego fights, rivalry and exorbitant costs have meant that large agency networks are rethinking the whole Cannes experience and some might even can their Cannes adventures. However, for us in Pakistan, having the Effies here is a good thing and with a little tweaks, I look forward to many more award shows over the years to come. Bring it on!
*Bogo was the gift partner of Effie Pakistan.
Tyrone Tellis is a marketing professional working in Pakistan. firstname.lastname@example.org