Much ado about award winning creative

There's a lot of ink (well, online, i.e.) at the moment on agencies and award-aimed creative work. Is it kosher for agencies to do pro-active, award-driven work that's not really part of the client's brief? Who commissions such work? Who checks it? Is it released in pucca press? Does the agency have a broadcast certificate? Am OK from the client? A blessing from the client? What's the thin line? And when does one cross it?

Creatives around the world are driven by podium glory. Not all work is done for clients with the brand at heart. And that's not just work that's entered into the grand raffle of ad awards. Day in, day out, creatives do work that is self gratifying. I'm not for a moment saying all work is like that, but a lot of it is. Often, it's off brief, off brand strategy, but the work looks great, and the copy is cleverly crafted, and it's all so much a work of art, rather than an effective communication that sells the brand. So, no big deal, you'd say, when the creatives go one step further and do the same thing for award entries?

But isn't it a push too far? Award winning entries are meant to be work that is done for the brand, on brief, and ones that are effective, ones that resonate with consumers, and leave a mark. Not just beautiful work. Effective work. Real work.

The standards in the Middle East over the last few months have been great. We've seen some gorgeous work entered for the Lynx Awards and for Cannes. Winning work, real work, good stuff. But a few have raised their eyebrows and questioned some of it. FP7 Doha's entry for the EA games which won massive accolades at Cannes has now come up as a hot topic for debate. It's a bit late in the day, isn't it? Crying over spilt milk, or, to be more precise, a gold lion? Apparently EA games have disowned it, they didn't ask for it, they had nothing to do with it. Talk to the team at FP7 Doha, and you'll hear a different story. Yes, they admit, they didn't put in the logos they should have, but, the ads, say FP7 were not faked.

More actually, where creative directors are standing up and saying Enough! with the metal chasing. They want to do real work. I read about a culture in the region that's "ill equipped" to do real work. I so buy that if the winning directors then go back to their creative pods and churn out mediocre ad after ad. That's the line they need to be aware of. And that's what should really be awarded.

The Last Mile and Infiniti

I have two rather close friends in the industry – Abhijeet Pundit and Francesca Ciaudano – both of whom are brand guardians for the Infiniti automotive brand regionally. The automotive business isn't exactly an easy one to be in. It's crowded, there's intense competition, and what really makes or breaks advertising, no matter what, is the last mile. I have often heard it being said that in the automotive industry, sales is sexy and all about spanking new showrooms and the smell of new cars, but what really counts is after sales. Service is key. That's what endears you to the brand, the product, the relationship.

I drive an Infiniti. Having been a European (read as UK/German) manufactured snob on badges all my life, I just fell into this Infiniti deal, and it's been two years, and I have never looked back. And, hear you me, I ain't getting out soon. I love the car. But more than anything else, it's the last mile in the relationship that I like. The service.

Go to the Infiniti Dubai site, and every bit of the cost is there for all to see. I love it. That's transparency. That's being up front when it counts. Much better than when I drove my ex-car to somewhere way beyond the airport, was forced to hire one of their cars and then went back next day and paid excess of 3000 dhs for a 20k km service. Steep huh? So, I See yad that German badge.

Or hey, my ex-ex-car, another German badge, when the windows would not roll up, and I paid 3000 dhs to get that fixed. This in the very first year of ownership. Whatever happened to my warranty? Oh, apparently that tiny part, the one that rolls up the window, that wasn't covered by Germany.

And then, I went Japanese. No surprises, no frills on the bills, and I'm lovin' it. What or who makes the difference however is the guy on the phone. I usually don't use names in my blogs when I write negative bits, but this is so positive, so much of an example if there was one, that I musty name this guy: Jessico. He is the service manager at Infiniti in Jumeirah (Shk Zayed Road) and his politeness, his always willing to help attitude is absolutely what makes my Infinti ownership so fabulous.
Jessico is the last mile. He is the one who makes the ads that Infiniti do in the papers day after day believable. He is the brand in action.

The Real in Real Estate

It's that time of the year. In Dubai, Cityscape defines the moment of truth for the real estate sector. Every year, investors, buyers, sellers, bankers, owners, tenants, the curious and the doomsday sayers all wait for this event. And, each year, it just gets hotter. Except this year, as I write, things are really, really on the edge.

Funnily enough, most every one I know in the ad industry also holds their breath. Someone who has a fair grasp of the industry here i the UAE told me that most agencies are '30% deep in real estate'. Meaning, around 30% of their revenues, in one form or another are real estate related communications related. Thus you see, if there's a spiral headed south, the ad industry here is not going to sit back and sigh and say 'There but for the grace of God...'

What I don't get is this wild wind of panic sentiment. When every stockbroker around is fighting for survival, when every market is in turmoil, hasn't the long standing sentiment always been to rely on real estate? To fall back on things like brick and mortar? But I guess the panic that's hit the money markets are drifting across the real estate segments as well. Although, even in the hardest hit markets, the strong real estate corners are holding steady. Let's just hope sense prevails. We wait and watch.