Social Media > An Idea

tumblr_ltcr1dyeyh1r4iceuo1_5002I was recently catching up with a fellow creative when our conversation turned to an entry into the White Pencil. The White Pencil is a D&AD initiative where the winner wins a prestigious white pencil. This sounds relatively trivial for anyone outside of the creative side of advertising but for those of us in it, it’s a bit of a big deal.

The brief this year was to tell everyone about International Peace Day. And unlike most briefs, the creatives were tasked not only with thinking up a solution, but also they were tasked with making it happen and documenting it. The more recognition, hits, and talk ability, the more likely it was going to factor into the success of the application.

Now I saw an entry that an unnamed multinational agency had thrown its weight (and money) behind. It was big and it concentrated heavily on making a big event and then leveraging social media. A hash tag was at the very centre of the idea so people could join up, comment and participate. I’d tell you the ins and out of the entry but I don’t think it’s terribly fair considering I sneakily saw it while I was freelancing in one agency and shouldn’t even know it exists.

Anyway, after we discussed the idea at length, we both agreed we didn’t 100% like the idea. It seemed a bit heavy handed and not that smart. It certainly wouldn’t change people’s perceptions…. But… we both agreed with the social media component (a lot of the event was centred around a hash tag) that despite it being only a good idea (but not great) it might win just because it had used social media to the fullest. And that in turn would create a case study filled with stats and gems.

Now from a purely creative point of view I have to ask this question: has social media blinded the judges of ad agencies to an extent that good + social > great – social. Is just the mere inclusion of a social media component playing too big a role when judging advertising work for inclusion in creative award annuals?

Why exactly is it that an inclusion of social media perks up an awards jury?

Shouldn’t ideas be judged purely on the basis of is it a good idea or not? Rather than the case study and the stats that social media led campaigns can spit out at the award juries.

Shouldn’t the creative awards be given on the basis of is this an idea that is purely groundbreaking, rather than the amount of tweets and free media?


Hi Jono, I don't know about the criteria and intent for this particular award. In my mind it's all about having an impact with people, a great idea is fine but if nobody sees it or engages with it, it has low impact and ability to change people's decisions, this is regardless of whether that idea is spread by paid advertising or social media or a combination of both. I'm a big advocate of data and measurability to see evidence of whether something is working.

posted by Klaus Bravenboer / 10.31.12 - 6:47 am

Hi Klaus, cheers for the comment. Always nice to have one. Completely agree with your para there, but the award in question should be largely judged on artistic merit if you will. Sure the stats and figures play a little role but awards for creatives are there for 'creative excellence'. I guess for an example, Imagine the Oscars judges awarding Best Picture based on ticket sales… On a separate point, in terms of data and measurability I also agree but sometimes I think this is taken too far by marketers. For example there have been clients in my past I've worked with who only use direct mail because they can measure their hit rate. The only thing is sometimes these might be the lowest hit rates out of the media. If I told the client they'd get a 1% hit rate with direct mail they could measure or a 8% hit rate on billboards (that they can't measure) the client would still go for the 1% because it produces figures… that to me is a little short sighted on the bigger picture (i.e. selling more)

posted by Jono / 10.31.12 - 9:59 am
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