Oscar Romero, head of performance media (Search, Social & Programmatic) for Performics was one of the judges on this year’s M&M Global Awards shortlist jury, and has revealed some of the key insights he unearthed from the work including some love for two campaigns by MEC Global Solutions and OMG.
What did you learn from the judging experience?
There is increasing fragmentation and silos forming in the marketplace. The key to cracking this is ensuring all elements of a brief are well orchestrated. If you can get all channels singing from the same song sheet while delivering a beautiful symphony that resonates with the target audience then you would be able to achieve the Shangri-La of harmonious campaign elements. This is no doubt a challenge comes from both inspiration and perspiration; only the best played symphony will be able to taste victory on the 7 September at the awards show.
What surprised you?
The challenging nature of the judging process given the similarly high standard exhibited by the entries covering so many channels. It’s also worth mentioning the level of execution was quite consistent from countries across the globe (even across different continents).
It was particularly interesting to see how local executions of global brands was taking into account local nuances and channel sophistication as well as political, economic and legal constraints.
Any countries/regions you are most impressed by the work you’ve seen?
I have had the pleasure to be a judge for a few years and it’s reassuring to see how entries from the UK tend to have that extra edge over other markets. In a way there is a competitive sharpness keeping them ahead of other countries even when comparing entries from the same agency group. In my view, this is due to the right mix of local and external talent, which only a global city with London’s pull can achieve. One could also argue that the fast-moving pace of the advertising industry, means only the fittest will survive and thrive. This Darwinian concept is the perfect analogy considering that the event is taking place at the Natural History Museum where the Dippy the Dinosaur has just been replaced by Hope, the blue whale skeleton. That said the industry everywhere is in a constant flux of evolution and the advertising industry in countries such as China, India or Israel is also producing award winning work.
Have you seen any work that inspired you?
An entry from Omnicom Media Group China (The First Hello, Elevit-Bayer) around fatherhood and the policy where fathers are not able to join their wives in the ultrasound room. This is frustrating for both the mother, who would feel alone in this critical part of everyone’s journey, and the father where the situation creates this ‘disconnection’ with the unborn child. I was very moved by this campaign that resonated with my personal experience and it captured my imagination. I am a proud father of three and I can only begin to imagine the sense of helplessness associated with not being able to be besides my loved one in such a life-changing moment.
Are there any topics in the industry that haven’t been covered by the work? If so, what do you believe they are?
There is a clear trend to become more transparent and accountable in the industry currently, which wasn’t touched on in the entries. The entire industry is under pressure by a race to the bottom and commoditisation. It doesn’t help with new entrants in the market are also eroding margins, so it remains to be seen if the promised land of AI, Automation and Machine Learning, will alleviate any of these concerns.
Building from this the challenge presented by the monopolies of walled gardens were not addressed in the categories I judged. It would be interesting to see how campaigns are striving to achieve a single customer view in this environment.
Another topic was data at the heart of the strategic decision making process. I felt that in the categories I judged the use of first, second and third party data was not fully leveraged.
And finally the marketing challenge of online media spend and its impact on offline sales remains key in today’s landscape. Key players in the market are making progress and two examples are Google’s launch of local inventory ads, and Facebook’s strategic partnership with Datalogix (now part of Oracle), which is linking its ads to offline sales via loyalty cards and emails. The reality is the market is moving to a more deterministic approach, as opposed to the guess work the industry has been reliant on to date.
What was your favourite entry and why?
I don’t really have a favourite entry since the categories were packed with rich illustrations of well-versed and cutting edge work. However, one campaign caught my attention because the story was both captivating and intriguing. The entry was ‘Becoming the Story with Marriott Hotels’ produced by MEC Global Solutions. In the past Marriot was sponsoring innovation events hoping that they would appeal to a younger audience and savvy business travellers. According to their data points, this wasn’t working so they were humble enough to recognise this and come up with a different strategic approach. As a result, they decided that instead of amplifying someone’s start-up story at the event, Marriott would become the story and launch a start-up programme. This major transformational shift is not an easy journey and could in some cases backfire, making it all the more noteworthy. In addition to this the investment on this project was in my opinion very cost-effective and a great example of symbiosis between the client, agency and the remaining stakeholders. Business transformation is hard to achieve and increasingly marketing is driving this with both insight and results.