The Axis Awards are on tonight. In case you don’t know, the Axis Awards “recognise creative excellence” in advertising. I can’t seem to find any information anywhere on the Axis website as to how they actually judge the awards, what the parameters are for winning and who you have to know/screw on the judge’s panel to win. Anyway, I digress.
Acknowledging creativity for its own sake is fine (that's why we have art galleries) but we all know that one man’s Jackson Pollock is another man’s pile of crap. Throwing out awards left, right and centre for the sake of creativity in advertising is pointless, further evidenced by the number of categories in which awards are dished out at the Axis Awards. Advertising awards that focus purely on creativity are as self serving and idiotic as the “Bent Spoon Awards”.
I’ve said it so many times before that I feel like a parrot, but the only point of advertising is to generate a result. Whether it’s increased sales for the client or a decrease in the amount of whales slaughtered, there has to be something tangible at the end of the campaign. Everything must be measured in advertising or advertisers will continue living in a world where they don't know which half of their advertising budget is working.
This brings me to the 2015 winner of the Grand Axis Award.
I’ll give this ad credit, it pulls the emotions, shows us how stupid we are and it tells a nice story for the NZ Transport Agency. But what did it achieve? Did Clemenger BBDO win the Grand Axis Award because it reduced road accidents by 7% and speeding related incidents by 10%? No, they won because they were creative. But what effect did this ad have? I visited the NZ Transport Agency’s website in the hope of getting more info in terms of results but there was nothing that showed either success or failure. All I could find out in relation to this ad was that “in 2013, 83 people were killed and 408 were seriously injured in speed-related crashes.” I guess the point of the ad (and all the others that the NZTA have done) was to lower these numbers somehow… But with no evidence to support this I can only conclude that the ad was a failure. At least it was creative so to hell with social responsibility and lowering the death toll on New Zealand’s roads.
Now I can hear the haters asking “When was the last time you won an advertising award?”. To which I proudly reply “Never!”. What the haters should really be asking is “Why can’t they measure the impact this advert had?” Surely the NZTA must put a measure in place, after all, us tax payers had to fit the bill, so shouldn’t we know whether it's working or not? Here we have a huge, vitally important part of our government, trying to reduce deaths and tragedy on our roads through advertising, yet they have no idea what effect this purely creative and award winning ad has on that?
We’re all 100% sure they know what effect alcohol and speed has on accidents, so why can’t their advertising have a measure for success (or failure)? Maybe John Key took part of the NZTA’s budget for the flag referendum and they don’t have the cash to spare? It seems like winning an advertising award where you’ve actually created no visible or positive change to the status quo, especially in road safety, seems like a bit of a wank.