Werbewoche.ch: This year you are taking on the role of jury president for the Effie Awards. What does this function entail?
Peter Felser: I lead the jury teams and see to it that the jury members can efficiently and effectively apply the given criteria for judging the submitted cases. The individual quality of the jurors and the balanced composition of the jury groups almost automatically lead to a good result. I look forward to working with these proven experts.
Let us in on the judging process, how exactly does that go down?
The judging process takes place in three stages. In the first stage, the finalists are determined, in the second stage the bronze, silver and gold winners. In the final stage of the judging process, a selected Grand Jury of a maximum of 10 jurors makes a unanimous decision on the Grand Effie, the best campaign of all the year's submissions - only the campaigns of the Gold winners are considered. In total, more than 80 jurors are involved. The composition of the juries is unique. They consist of marketing experts from agencies, companies, market research and science. The criteria and their weighting are clearly defined. They assess the challenge and the goals, the chosen strategy, the implementation and the results achieved - in other words, the effectiveness of the campaign. The results are given the highest weighting. The experts assess the campaign individually using a clear scoring system. Only after individual assessment is there a discussion. The arguments in the borderline cases are certainly conducted intensively and passionately. This leads to good and comprehensible results.
The Effie takes place every two years, have you already sifted through the first submissions?
No, deliberately not. I sift through all the entries at the same time, shortly before the first day of judging. Then my impressions and insights are still fresh.
The world is in turmoil; it feels as if not one stone is left upon another. The pandemic has worn us down, the war in the heart of Europe is tearing people apart. Do the circumstances have an influence on the works that you and your jury team have to evaluate?
It may be that some of the works focus on other goals. In addition, I expect campaigns that would not have been created at all without the aforementioned crises. Of course, the jury team does not live isolated from the real world and is indirectly influenced by the circumstances. However, the basic criteria for the evaluation remain unchanged.
The Effie honors the most effective, goal-oriented work. Please classify the role of creativity, strategy and measurability of a marketing measure in the field of tension of effectiveness.
Effie is about effectiveness and efficiency. Effectiveness is achieved when a campaign actually achieves the desired effect. Efficiency is achieved when the communication effort is in a healthy relationship to the success. Measurability is the be-all and end-all of the Effie. Without measurable results, the jury cannot evaluate the case at all. Without measurable results, no Effie! The difficulty lies in determining the role of communication. Is the proven effect really related to advertising, or are other factors such as distribution, competitors' activities, or the market environment in general playing the decisive role? If, for example, online sales increase by 10 percent during the pandemic period, this does not necessarily have to be attributed to the campaign. Opinions differ on the role of strategy and creativity in increasing effectiveness. It's clear to me that a solid strategy is extremely important for effectiveness. However, it is also clear to me that excellent creative execution is a multiplier of impact. The more targeted creativity, the more effective the campaign. A good Effie case is characterized by ambitious goals and a clear strategy, and uses the power of creativity to achieve full impact.
As president of the jury, you have an important role to play in the fabric of the Effie Awards. How are you preparing?
I've been preparing for this task since the beginning of my professional career! (laughs) I already wrote my dissertation on the subject of advertising effectiveness. As an advertiser, effectiveness has always been the central concern for me. My work as a course director at the HWZ has allowed me to keep my expertise in this regard fresh and to constantly analyze current examples from a neutral position. I consider it a matter of decency for those responsible for communications to deal with impact. After all, more than 6 billion Swiss francs are invested in communication in Switzerland. It is therefore obvious to deal with the impact. Those who do not do so are acting irresponsibly. Or to put it less pathetically: dealing with the impact of marketing measures should be part of the job profile of all communications professionals on the agency and client side, and taking part in the Effie should be as natural as brushing your teeth.
Finally, let's move on to another topic. After six courses and more than 100 graduates, you have handed over the management of the CAS Brand Leadership at the HWZ to new hands, but you will remain with the course as a lecturer on the topic of "Brand Mission". Why is the WHY so important for a brand?
Empirical studies illustrate the above-average success of brands with a clear WHY compared to brands without a clear mission. Mission is about why we (as a brand or company) exist and what we do for people. Brands with an inspiring mission are successful because people are increasingly looking for meaningful offerings. Buying any product may well increase people's sense of happiness in the short term, but it is unlikely to create lasting fulfillment. Happiness comes from the things we do for ourselves. We feel fulfillment when our work or our actions are directly related to our WHY and thus always take others into account.
Will the WHY of a fire be even more crucial in the future, or do you think it has always been the critical foundation of any company's engine room?
The WHY will become even more decisive. The search for meaning is even likely to become a dominant trend. People want to feel an attitude and a contribution to something bigger. Shared belief leads to a valuable bond between brand and people. In my view, declining brand loyalty is the greatest challenge in brand management - clear communication of the brand mission the only relevant solution. Despite - or perhaps because of - this conviction, the current discussion about Purpose-driven Marketing annoys me. Often, the suddenly emerging Purpose is actually pure marketing claptrap. The focus is on discovering the hidden core, not inventing something new that sounds sexy at the moment. A strong mission must be built on the brand's DNA; management and employees must bring the mission to life by consistently living it. Simply jumping on a bandwagon and pretending doesn't work. It is also unspeakable to demand that brands should show attitude and speak out on everyone and everything. Brands should focus on their mission. Sometimes this has nothing to do with current events. But they still make a valuable contribution to certain people.
Peter Felser is owner of Felser Brand Leadership, lecturer in brand management and jury president of the Effie Awards Switzerland 2022.