LONDON/WASHINGTON: Twenty essays have been shortlisted for the Admap Prize 2013, which will award $5,000 in cash to the best essay discussing whether brands can mix the pursuit of profit with social responsibility.

The shortlist was compiled by a panel of judges that included Miguel Pestana, vice president, global external affairs at Unilever, Colin Mitchell, worldwide head of planning at Ogilvy & Mather, and Sara de Dios, global head of meaningful brands at Havas Media.

They are now deciding which papers should receive the Gold, Silver and Bronze winners. The winning papers will be announced in May, and awarded at an event taking place at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity on June 19th.

Overall, the Prize attracted 102 entries from 24 countries. "They were a stimulating read. I was expecting lots of clich├ęs, but we got lots of originality, and the standard was very high," said Guy Murphy, Worldwide Planning Director at JWT, another member of the judging panel.

The essays explored the tension around brands' primary obligation to maximise profit and shareholder value and a new obligation to be a force for good.

Admap editor Colin Grimshaw noted that these were not necessarily conflicting objectives, pointing out that if brands are not seen as a force for good, their reputation and shareholder value can be destroyed overnight, especially on social media.

Conversely, if they are seen as a force for good, then the associated uplift in consumer engagement and brand sentiment can greatly enhance brand loyalty, sales and profits.

He also observed that while some brands had been adept at marrying these twin objectives, others were wrestling with the challenge. Cause marketing, for example, is still seen as a marketing expense, while debate rumbles on about what Corporate Social Responsibility really is and how the benefits can be measured

The winning essay will be awarded a $5,000 cash prize, with the Gold, Silver and Bronze awarded essays plus any Judges' Commended essays being published in the June edition of Admap.

Data sourced from Warc