SINGAPORE: Agencies are in danger of losing sight of delivering growth for clients as they become distracted by awards, a leading industry figure has claimed.

"Advertising should be about facilitating growth, not awards shows," John Merrifield, chief creative officer at Google Asia Pacific, told an audience at the All That Matters conference which took place in Singapore.

"Creativity should be about having an impact for clients and giving them a larger share of the future – not just doing a one-off campaign, but building a brand properly and making it more meaningful and engaging," he added.

A similar criticism was recently levelled at the industry by the Indian Confederation of NGOs, which claimed that campaigns developed by agencies and brands to help disadvantaged people in India tended to end abruptly at the same time as the advertising awards season finished.

For Merrifield, success was not to be measured in industry gongs. "You should be aiming for an episode of a show like The Simpsons," he stated. "That's the success criteria."

With its sharp critique of American culture the cartoon series has frequently featured spoofs of real brands and advertising techniques and Merrifield argued that creatives, rather than talking to themselves or the ad world, "need to be making a genuine impact on popular culture".

And he was saddened by how the industry's premier festival had developed, arguing that the Cannes Lions, the best known global advertising awards show, no longer fulfilled its original remit. "It used to be a get-together for creatives," he said. "Now it's become a business engine in its own right."

But not everyone is so curmudgeonly about the event. Greg Stuart, CEO of the Mobile Marketing Association, enthused about it to

"It's just a great place to check in and see how powerful this new channel [mobile] has become for communicating to consumers from a creative perspective," he said. "I've got the data, but Cannes is where you get really excited about it."

Data sourced from Mumbrella Asia; additional content by Warc staff