Published in Mar-Apr 2021
It is an honour to be writing about PAS on the occasion of their 25th anniversary. I have been an active member of the forum for the past three years and am very proud of some of the work they have done. Over the years, PAS has several achievements to its credit. These include successfully liaising with PEMRA and other government bodies on behalf of advertisers, negotiating between channels and agencies, mediating conflicts between competing organisations and playing a critical role in introducing People Meters and thus serving as the only forum in Pakistan which serves as the face of the industry.
However, in my opinion, one of their landmark achievements is undoubtedly bringing the Effies to Pakistan. As everyone in the advertising industry knows, the Effies are perhaps the Oscars of the marketing industry globally.
Before the Effies came to Pakistan in 2019, PAS organised their own awards which became the benchmark for excellence in terms of creativity and effectiveness. However, the Effies changed the horizon from local to global. Our agencies and creatives are now suddenly pitched against a global pool and this gives Pakistan much needed attention. This is because every Gold, Silver, Bronze and Effie Grand Prix winner becomes part of the Effie’s Global Index and are entered into the APAC (Asia Pacific) Effie Awards.
Ultimately, the Effies are a huge asset for our industry. Winning an Effie means that your peers are commending your work and there is no feeling better than winning one.
In order to ensure that every participant has a fair chance of winning, PAS regularly organises training sessions on how advertisers should position their entry cases. The template is the same as the one used globally. These training sessions are held for all marketing and advertising professionals and are conducted by experienced marketers from the industry. However, I do feel that despite PAS’s efforts in the last few years, the cases received are still not up to mark. There needs to be more rigour put into the process by the organisations that want to compete. However, as is true for every award, there are always naysayers in any industry, who complain that the Effies are not ‘fair’. Yet, in my opinion, no stone is left unturned to ensure that the awards are fair and transparent. For this, several layers of vigilance have been put in place to ensure this and I will talk about a few aspects here.
A Rigorous Judging Process
There are three judging rounds. The first round screens and shortlists all cases for the final round. In the second round the shortlisted entries compete for the award level i.e. Gold, Silver and Bronze. All the Gold winners then are evaluated in the third round by the Grand Jury for the Effie Grand Prix, which is the best of the best. There is a minimum qualifying score that is required by an entry to move to the next round or for any award level. It is also important to note that in any round if a jury member is from the same company or category the entry is, they are asked to recuse themselves to ensure that there is no bias.
An Unbiased Jury
Every year, when the members of the jury are announced, a lot of industry professionals who have not been chosen opt to ‘mark themselves safe’ on social media; however, the simple fact of the matter is that the number of jury members is directly proportionate to the number of entries. For example, when PAS initially introduced the PAS Awards, they received on average 100 entries and the number of jury members was approximately 50. As the number of entries has increased to nearly 300, at least 150 jury members are required to ensure a transparent judging process. Furthermore, jury members are not selected on the basis of whether the organisation they belong to is a local or a multinational company, a large or a small agency; they are selected on the quality of the body of work they have produced, and most of them have been in the industry for at least seven to eight years. Additionally, people from different professional spheres, be it marketing, advertising, academia or media are included to provide a diverse range of views. As a result, the judging process ensures that smaller companies can compete on a level-playing field with larger ones with bigger budgets and ensure that entries are chosen on merit and not on how much money was spent on a particular piece of communication. An improvement here could be that PAS should make more of an effort to publicise the criteria for choosing jury members as this will clear any doubts regarding their credibility.
An Effective Scoring System
The scoring system is divided into four parts. The first is ‘Challenge, Context & Objectives’ (23.3% of score): Jury members assess the entry in terms of the challenge the brand faced at a particular point and the objectives of the campaign. Equally important is the context with regard to why these objectives were important at the time. The second is ‘Insights & Strategic Idea’ (23.3% of score): Entries are judged on the strategic process and insights that led to the ‘big idea’ which met the communications challenge. The third is ‘Bringing the Idea to Life’ (23.3% of score): Judges gauge how effectively the big idea was brought to life, and why specific media channels were selected. The fourth is ‘Results’ (30% of score): Jury members determine direct correlations between real objectives and results. The ‘Results’ account for 30% of the total score – this part is disproportionately higher compared to the other three criteria which account for 23.3% each. This is what makes the judging process airtight as every campaign is gauged on the basis of its results; in some cases, the idea may be great, but if it does not get results it is not worthy of being a winner. Being part of PAS in general and a jury member in particular has several benefits that people do not seem to realise. Firstly, it brings together many people from different spheres and opens doors for collaborations between brands and agencies as well as freelancers and creative consultants. This creates a sense of community among members of the industry and allows a free flow of innovative ideas, creativity and industry issues. Secondly, for me personally, as a jury member, the judging sessions serve as a learning ground and this kind of learning cannot be gained from any college or university. For example, when the younger jury members discuss the effectiveness of a campaign, their views regarding digital are very different from mine or my senior colleagues; so now, when I work on a digital campaign, I keep their perspectives in mind. Equally important, the Effies have created a healthy competition within the industry and in the process have forced us to up our game and produce work that is better than ever
Ultimately, the Effies are a huge asset for our industry. Winning an Effie means that your peers are commending your work and there is no feeling better than winning one. My earnest request to the industry at large would be to focus on making good entry cases so that the competition becomes even more intense in future. Any and every effort made towards the Effies will ultimately result in the betterment of the local industry.
Finally, I would like to congratulate PAS on their 25th anniversary and hope that they continue to introduce initiatives that motivate our industry to create even better work.
Humayun Farooq is Marketing Director, Health, RB Pakistan. firstname.lastname@example.org