By DALJIT DHESI, The Star
PETALING JAYA: The Agency of the Year Awards 2010 organised by the Advertising + Marketing Magazine (A+M Magazine) last week has come under fire from some quarters for the way it was carried out.
Media industry observers contacted by StarBizWeek feel the methodology used for awarding the winners was open to bias and that the event, held in KL on July 28, did not have the endorsement of a reputable industry body.
There was also a sense of dissatisfaction among marketing communications agencies that awards like the Brand Consultancy of the Year, Search Marketing Agency of the Year and Mobile Marketing Agency of the Year were not given to brand consultancies, specialist search marketing agencies and specialist mobile marketing agencies respectively, but instead awarded to “unrelated” agencies.
Brand Consultancy of the Year (Overall Brand Strategy) was clinched by ad agencies Ogilvy (gold), Naga DDB (silver), and Leo Burnett/Arc (bronze).
The top two awards for Search Marketing Agency of the Year and Mobile Marketing Agency of the Year were bagged by media specialist Mindshare (gold) and advertising agency Ogilvy (silver). Editor of the magazine, Gabey Goh, says in a statement: “We are absolutely confident in the strength of the methodology and the research findings. Rather than complain about the results, we believe that agencies’ interests would be better served by putting their energy into building their companies’ reputations amongst those that really matter: their customers.”
The head of a media specialist firm, who requested anonymity, tells StarBizWeek that it is fine for the winners to be awarded for some categories although they are not specialists in those areas as long they offer the relevant services.
But he claims that the event lacked credibility as it had not been backed or endorsed by a reputable marketing communications body.
“Unfortunately, giving awards has become a profit-making venture. The methodology used is also questionable as the survey was sent to 7,726 people and the response rate was only very small at 4.36%. This could possibly lead to bias as the response was not reflective of the majority of the respondents,’’ he adds.
He says having the Association of Accredited Advertising Agents (4As) president Datuk Vincent Lee as a guest of honour did not amount to an endorsement by the 4As.
Omnicom Media Group Malaysia managing director Andreas Vogiatzakis says while the A+M Magazine award show is good for the advertising and marketing industry, more work and improvement are needed.
“Specifically, and as a positive way forward, the categories could be explained in greater detail so that the judges can get a clearer understanding on what each category means and includes, and agencies to be considered for a particular category based on their respective work and expertise in that category,” he says.
It would also be more appropriate if the agencies were judged against pre-set criteria based on the work that they had produced, and evaluated by a panel of judges that meet to review the cases, instead of a questionnaire that was distributed to a rather large group of people (thus eliminating the “popularity” vote and focus on the work itself), according to Vogiatzakis.
Several brand consultancies contacted said there should be a clear demarcation between branding and advertising. “Brand consultancies’ core business is branding whereas for ad agencies, it is advertising although branding is a part of it. The polling for awards should have consulted us rather than ad agencies alone. This does not give a clear picture or lend credence to the award,’’ a brand consultant says.
Goh, the editor of A+M, says the research for the Agency of the Year was conducted by Boardroom Research (BRR), a reputable research company which it has worked with for many years and has never found any fault with.
“BRR is completely transparent with all the data and anyone who has and questions regarding the results are very welcome to speak to BRR.
“We at A+M are absolutely confident in the strength of the methodology and the research findings,” she says. Responding to a query via email, BRR general manager Curtis Bergh says there was no prompting of a certain agency for a certain category and therefore no sample bias amongst respondents.
“If there are agencies that wind up a winner in a certain category where they may not be considered by some to have expertise, then that is a significant finding of our research and isn’t a fault with the methodology,’’ he argues.
“Boardroom Research stands behind our methodology. For a pioneering survey such as this one, a 4.36% response rate overall from senior level agency professionals and client marketers we believe has provided an adequate and significant number of respondents.
“Given that nearly 600 people turned up at the event and the president of the 4As gave the keynote address, I think the event definitely had the backing of the industry,” Bergh noted.
4As president Datuk Vincent Lee says the organisers should have scrutinised the list of nominees better so that companies were not nominated for the category of business in which they were not in.
“I don’t know how they selected the nominees. I felt awkward that night. In the future, I should be more careful in choosing the events where I’m asked to make a speech,” he says.
Source: The Star