Jerker Winther, Head of Strategy, Akestam Holst

AME Grand Jury POV: Jerker Winther

2021 Grand Jury member Jerker Winther is Head of Strategy for Akestam Holst. He brings 25 years of industry experienc to the jury panel. As a partner of Åkestam Holst/Bold and the North Alliance Jerker has the responsibility to secure the strategic output for both the advertising agency Åkestam Holst and for the design agency Bold.

New York, NY | February 26, 2021

AME recruits advertising and marketing thought-leaders from around the globe to select results-driven effective campaigns that move the needle on behalf of the brand. The 2021 Grand Jury of  globally respected, award-winning executives bring innovation, industry expertise, and a 360-degree global perspective to the judging panel.

2021 Grand Jury member Jerker Winther is Head of Strategy for Akestam Holst. He brings 25 years  of industry experienc to the jury panel. As a partner of Åkestam Holst/Bold and the North Alliance Jerker has the  responsibility to secure the strategic output for both the advertising agency Åkestam Holst and for the design agency Bold. Åkestam Holst is ranked as one of the most creative agencies in Sweden and Bold is consider to be one of leading design agencies in the Nordic’s. Jerkers dedication to strategy and effect has made agency the most rewarded agency in the Swedish Effie’s the last five years.

In the interview below Jerker shares his perspective on why effectiveness competitions are important for the industry,how the brands voice has changed since COVID, and his all time most favorite creative and effective ad.

AME Awards: Why are effectiveness competitions like the AME Awards important?

Jerker Winther: I think effectiveness competitions are necessary for our industry. It is in fact important for our long-term survival. It has long been known in our industry that communication creates massive value for companies and organization, especially when it is highly creative. There is a vast amount of research that all points to the same conclusion. Creative communication break through the clutter, creates more liking among the recipients, it creates stronger memory effects and affect both brand, behavioral and business effect with greater force. Les Binets and Peter Fields research from IPA shows us again and again that brands that invest in communication and have higher share of voice compared to share of market are gaining market shares and increases profitability.

Unfortunately, knowledge about the connection between communication and effect are often limited to the marketing departments and the ad industry. Among other parts of the organization, the connection between the real value we as and industry contributes with is not as well known.

Advertising, especially creatively executed, is not seen as a critical factor in creating competitiveness outside our industry. This is of course a challenge for us as an industry. In my opinion the importance of having effectiveness competition is to get as many cases as possible that show the correlation between our work and the business value we create. The more cases we can put together, the higher probability that one of these cases ends up on a desk at some CEO, CFO or board member, the people who often dictate the premises when it comes to budget allocations. And when they realize the potential and benefits that communication can bring to the business the higher is the chance that we will see a greater motivation to invest in creative communication from more companies.

Another important aspect to highlight is also the price pressure and the declining margins that our industry has long struggled with, compared to other consulting services. This kind of competition can also contribute to packaging strong effect cases that are convincing outside the industry, and thus can increase the willingness to pay and invest in creative communication.

AME Awards: How has the brand’s voice changed since the pandemic confinement measures? Speak to the evolution of brand positioning, values, and tone of voice during COVID.

Jerker Winther: The pandemic has set off a complex chain reaction of new behaviors across all markets and categories, and partially stopped the world in its tracks. So any trend spotting will of course mainly be sweeping generalizations. However, some interesting patterns that warrant mention:

1) Forced into branding.  Many brands are – given no other option – finally doing what they should have been doing all along: branding. We’re seeing an increase in brands that are focusing more on protecting and increasing the future sales and creating a strong preference for their products as the switch to shopping online disrupts old shopping behaviors. But it’s interesting to see that brands are essentially doing the “right” thing, according to market science, only when they literally have no other choice, as is the case for many travel brands, gyms, luxury brands etc.

2) More focus on mental health and sustainability. More brands are involving themselves in the issues of mental health created by the pandemic, enforced isolation and the financial fallout of the crisis. We’re especially seeing a lot of telco brands getting involved in connecting people, but it’s a pattern across all categories – brands showing a more caring side and addressing topics of wellness that have often been taboo, or just neglected. On a particular note, is the work that ITV has been doing around “Britain Get Talking” that stands head and shoulders above many other brands in its execution.

There has also been an explosion of brands communicating sustainability. This is of course good, that the awareness has increase around this topic and a lot of companies is trying to adjust and make a difference. But needless to say, there are a lot of brands that fail hard in communicating sustainability given the fact that a) sustainability is not a key driver for consumers in a lot of categories or b) the brand has done nothing to be sustainable.  If a brand wants to make a mark around sustainability, they should act first and then talk about it.

3) Increased political action. Brands have lately chosen or been forced to step into more overtly political territory. What started with Covid – 19 and the Black Lives Matter movement has been further accelerated by the tense political situation in the United States, the U.K. and many other countries. Brands are increasingly forced to take a stance on issues, as democracy itself is being undermined, not only in their communication, but in areas of their business not always on public display – like political donations, affiliations and sponsorships. 

The banning of Donald Trump from Twitter after the events of January 6th marks a continued shift in the role of media platforms, brands and culture that foreshadows increasing changes in how brands interact with political and societal issues and tests the limits of neutrality.  

This is also something that is a dangerous path to enter because the risk of blow backs for a brand. Apple´s ad during the Black Lives Matter movement is a proof of this, which Mark Ritson pointed out in a tweet. “The usual bullshit from brands again. Black lives exist on social media, but not in the upper reaches of the boardrooms” So if a brand should get in too politics, they should first have done their homework.

Finally, it seems obviously trite to say it, but many brands have also realized that if they haven’t fully committed to e-commerce by now, they’ve wildly misjudged where the world is going. Some brands are reaping the results of their foresight, while others are struggling to catch up.

AME Award: What is your all time, favorite most creative and effective ad and/or ads (share the link or a visual) and why in your opinion did they triumph?

It would be easy to choose Old Spice because of it won every award show it competed in. It is of course on top of my list and a solid case where one can easily follow the strategic decisions they have made. Prioritizing the category buyer´s instead of the users and based the idea on a solid consumer insight but I have chosen a smaller and not so famous case from the Nordic´s for the brand Gainomax. The reason I choose this case was because of the simplicity and the boldness in the strategy. This case made me so envy when I first saw it, this is something I would have sacrifice my left pinky to come up with.

It is a red thread from the business insight to the actual consumer insight and execution that is brilliant.

When this was launched this market was relatively small. Instead of competing with other protein shakes, they realized that the market was to small. They needed to find new buyers to the category and the buyers where using eating a substitute. So instead of competing with other brands within the category they took on a different competitor, the banana.

This became a massive success and the brand increased their market share a lot. It is not only a brilliant effect case it is also, in my opinion brilliant executed.