The AME Awards competition honors not just campaigns that are creative, but campaigns that hit the bullseye for brands, triumphing in both creativity and effectiveness. AME’s Grand Jury are the genius minds behind many of AME’s award-winning entries.
2020 AME Grand Jury member Jon Marchant is Managing Director of FP7 McCann Dubai. He is an agency leader and strategic integrated marketeer with over 20 year’s industry experience developing stand-out marketing campaigns for some of the UK’s best-loved brands.
In 2017 he left Europe for the Arabian desert, and is leading the troops at FP7 Dubai, who hold the lofty accolade of most creatively effective agency in MENA for 5 years in succession. In his previous role, Jon was MD of McCann Central in the UK, which grew to become the largest integrated agency outside of London, and the largest McCann operation in Europe.
AME Awards: Tell us about your process of creating and delivering effective results.
Jon Marchant: Our methodology at FP7 McCann starts with working hard to get and define the real objectives of the brief. By having these from the outset, we can define the strategy in a more focused way and therefore anything that’s slightly off strategy has the potential to derail our chances of effectiveness, so we work hard to keep to our strategic North Star.
Brainstorms and workshops to ‘hack’ the clients’ issues upfront are becoming more and more fruitful, and it’s these sessions that often reveal that an ‘ad’ campaign is not necessarily the answer. And we have so much access to data now that defining the problem has become easier than ever.
We have a neat question on our creative brief that says, ‘what will the media say about our campaign idea’? This is great for visualizing the potential of our work and getting our creative talents excited about the brief.
AME Awards: Why are effectiveness competitions like the AME Awards important?
Jon Marchant Here in the MENA region especially, advertisers and their agencies are continuously working under tighter budgets, and so are being tested for their ability to work under constraints that they may not have experienced before. This makes the emphasis to produce ‘work that works’ even greater. In a procurement-led market, it’s not enough just to be creative anymore.
And we’re witnessing a growing trend for other awards shows to recognize creative strategy and creative effectiveness more and more – note in particular the 34% increase in Creative Effectiveness Lions at Cannes in 2019. Creative effectiveness focuses on business growth, which is important, but more than that the stronger cases can also demonstrate cultural impact, which is far more long-lasting and rewarding for agencies and clients.
I also believe that effectiveness competitions are great at demonstrating the collective impact of an agency. The idea and the work will always get the most attention but it’s the role of the suit to interrogate the brief in the first place and clearly define the problem and it’s the role of the strategist to unearth some meaty insights and keep us on strategy at all times. So when all these disciplines are singing it makes for consistently effective and impactful work.
And as human beings, it’s in our nature to want to compete against our peers on a global stage and win!
AME Awards: What campaign or campaigns are you most proud of and how did it move the needle for the brand?
Jon Marchant There are a couple of recent examples for FP7 McCann that I’d like to cite, both very different in their approach. For Uber, in the creation of our Uber Legends campaign, we showed how data-driven insights can actually fuel more human and more purposeful creativity to dramatic effect. We championed its top users based on riders’ data to tell real stories of real journeys. And in a time when people debate if data is killing creativity, we proved the opposite, showing genuine data-driven creativity. We had a significant a visible uplift in preference and trips per rider and brand favourability increased 7% where previously local and more established brands had been favoured. We also had a 40% uplift in acquisition of new riders. I think a good barometer of how strong an idea is, is how far it travels globally, and this campaign has now been adopted across 3 other continents!
My second example is from a little-known travel brand from Saudi Arabia called Almosafer. We reignited the lost magic of Ramadan in the region, by seeing it through a little child’s story, and took that spirit to the world. It took bravery on behalf of our client as we were defying typical Ramadan marketing clichés and effectively merging cultures and religions. That bravery paid off in spades and became a real David vs. Goliath story. With low budgets, it overtook and beat the leading competitors, including a 19% top-of-mind awareness, surpassing the more establish giants like Booking.com.
AME Awards: Who is your inspiration and how has this philosophy made you who you are today?
Jon Marchant: As a life-long Manchester United fan, I have always been in complete awe of Sir Alex Ferguson, the former manager who led the club for 26 years and won 38 trophies. Although a reference from the sporting world, I believe his philosophies and application are equally as relevant in business.
All of us can learn a thing or two from his ability to set standards for others to aspire to, his incredible work ethic, his ability to engage and galvanize individuals to work as a formidable team, for always having integrity, and last but not least his unsurpassable drive and hunger to be the best. If I can take just a fraction of these traits and apply them to my day-to-day, I know I’m doing OK.