Havas London’s Executive Strategy Director, Clare Hutchinson, spoke to WARC’s Lucy Aitken about the considerable benefits of writing a paper for the IPA Effectiveness Awards.

Advice for first time entrants

Involving people who understand how to write these papers is crucial. You might be looking at your story and may think it’s not compelling, but it’s all in the framing of it and understanding the smartness of what you’ve done. There’s an art to writing an IPA paper and you need people on your support team who know what the judges are looking for.

The benefit of looking back

People get stuck in what’s happening tomorrow rather than spending time looking back on what they’ve done and analysing why it was successful. Writing an IPA Effectiveness paper puts you in a better place for moving forwards on that piece of business and engaging the client in the next chapter. If you can understand the intelligence and how you can apply it to next year’s plans and beyond, it will help you to define the future of your brand and your business, as well as your client’s business.

Be creative and forensic

Writing an IPA paper is a forensic exercise and you need to get creative about where you find other data sources because there are often unexpected and overlooked stories which are interesting because no one’s really thought about them before. There may also be a greater opportunity to stand out in a sector or space that hasn’t been written about before.

Consider whether there is a new angle or story that can be told that will lead to a greater learning for the industry. If you think about papers that way rather than brand-first, it will lead you to a more interesting angle and standpoint.

Buy-in from the client is vital

When we started writing our Ella’s Kitchen paper, we thought we didn’t have enough data. It needs a strong partnership with a client to make it work: Ella’s Kitchen’s head of insight helped us to work on it. Framing this as a rigorous, thorough piece of work and an opportunity to optimise and enhance future work shows the double benefit: the fame and acclaim from a potential award win but also driving the bottom line of the business.

Don’t press go until you have spoken to your client and engaged them. This is an engagement opportunity to get close to the brand and the business and create a platform for it to generate some fame within their industry.

Writing an IPA entry can help you with other awards entries

IPA Effectiveness is the mother of all competitions but once you’ve done that you’re set up for other awards schemes: we’ve also won at the Marketing Society, Effies and APG, having tailored the story for each one. That starts to create momentum for the case study.

The client needs to be comfortable with the narrative

Telling a compelling IPA story can involve a narrative that includes risk and jeopardy. Sometimes clients can understandably feel uncomfortable with jeopardy, so it’s important to work with them collaboratively to agree the right angle that works well for the paper but also the client. Strong partnership is the only way to do this.

Effectiveness isn’t limited to long-term brand-building campaigns

A correlation exists between the length of the client/agency relationship and the likelihood of success, but there’s equally no reason why something that is more short term can’t have an effectiveness story attached to it: the modern media world is much more short term and we need to start looking at new ways of driving and proving effectiveness in that landscape. Burger King is interesting because every year it takes a short term promotion and does something creative and subversive against the competition and gets a spike of response and engagement.

It’s innovative brand-building because it owns a behaviour that it can creatively reinvent every year. So how we look at effectiveness creatively and in terms of data will need to change by necessity as the world of media consumption changes.

The IPA Effectiveness Awards are open for entries until 31 March 2020