This post is by John Drake, vp of brand strategy at Drake Cooper. He blogs regularly on campaign planning.
Not long ago Oprah Winfrey released a swarm of bees into her studio audience. People went nuts. Her fans fell all over themselves embracing the attacking bees as she looked on in delight. It was a sight to see. But it could only be seen on an animated GIF which was brilliantly put together somewhere on the web. The Oprah Bees GIF won top honors at the .GIFYS.
The .GIFYS? Yes, the award event for animated GIFs. Didn't know about that? It's where digital experts select outstanding achievement in GIF design. This type of award isn't too distant from the new Watch Awards where agencies can take home statues for achievement in online video.
Our industry has always loved awards. As we develop more skills we create more awards. Today, agencies can submit nearly every part of their tactical craft – from radio spots to GIFs – for an award that is entirely about that singular thing. We keep digging down under the tree until even the skinniest of our creative roots compete with each other. Who knows what type of award shows we'll create to compare the tactics of the future?
Which is okay.
Top craft should always be recognized.
But does going further down into tactics elevate what we do?
As we evolve into an industry where, according to Gartner, the CMO will soon spend more on technology than the CIO, shouldn't we also be looking up and seeing if there's new strategy and planning achievements that deserve acknowledgement?
Did you see "We're All Storytellers?" It's a wonderful piece from Google that aired during the Academy Awards after the Best Screenplay Oscars were announced. I haven't seen it air since. Perhaps it was just for the Oscars. Regardless, linking a storytelling message to the Best Screenplay Oscars was an example of something incredibly important: context.
A similar time context struck so strongly was when Summer Olympic viewers were introduced to "Find Your Greatness." How could we not cheer on this ad? How could we not use it as a motivator for ourselves? (Nike wasn't even an official Olympic sponsor, but their context made it feel like they were.)
Context relates to the circumstances that form the setting for an idea. And in a world where we can dial-in our understanding of an audience with precision, shouldn't context be one of our most sought-after prizes?
Because context takes smart upfront planning. It requires seizing an opportunity. It demands tailored content. It takes discipline. And it means making really hard choices on both the message and the medium. Put simply, outstanding achievement in context is really hard. But when it's done well, superior context moves an audience better than most one-off tactics.
There should be an award show for that.