A number of years ago, I had the opportunity to work on a project with Coca-Cola Bottlers. One evening I went to dinner with the Coke representative for this project, and the subject of Pepsi’s advertising came up. At the time Pepsi was known for churning out some very creative and entertaining TV ads, and it had been successful in generating a lot of buzz.
Acknowledging his competitor’s advertising success, the Coke rep smiled and said, “Pepsi wins awards, and we win market share.”
Touché. He had put his finger on a problem that too often plagues agencies, whether they are focused on advertising, public relations, promotions, direct marketing, digital or some combination of them.
Agencies like to tout their awards, but at the end of the day if you aren’t helping your clients sell more of their products or services, or enhancing their reputations and goodwill, how much good are you really doing them?
Although I specialize in public relations, at one time or another in my career I’ve been involved in nearly every aspect of marketing—and I’ve been fortunate to have been part of some very talented teams that have won professional awards.
Creativity is important, but the most meaningful awards are those that can
be tied to achieving specific results and objectives.
In fairness, it’s important to recognize that agencies often lack control over a variety of factors that can affect a client’s sales. And it’s certainly possible for agencies to win awards and market share for their clients, so it doesn’t have to be one or the other. But too often I’ve seen agencies fall into the “Pepsi syndrome” of focusing more on the awards they’ve won than on how they have helped clients meet their business objectives.
When it comes to ad agency new business, PR should be playing a critical role in your overall strategy. If your agency’s PR efforts are winning awards but not helping you achieve new business success, it’s time to reevaluate what you are doing and how you are doing it.