Jean-Paul Burge: "We need to ensure the creative product works"
Posted on February 14, 2017 | By Iain Akerman

Jean-Paul Burge, chairman and CEO of BBDO Asia and the president of the creative effectiveness jury at the Dubai Lynx, on why work that changes consumer behaviour and grows clients’ businesses should be an agency’s priority.

“It is no understatement to say that creative effectiveness is the one award category that all agencies should want to win,” says Jean-Paul Burge, chairman and CEO of BBDO Asia and president of the creative effectiveness jury. “The work we will be judging has proven its creativity, subjectively and our task is to unequivocally demonstrate that one idea has worked for the client better than another. And we will be doing this for one of the most exciting and innovative regions, which has for some time been creating bold and exciting work that should be better recognised internationally.”

Effectiveness in advertising is one of the industry’s biggest points of contention. What is the value of an award if any given campaign has not proven to be effective? Should the beauty of an idea or concept trump its alleged reach or success? Do agencies even take effectiveness seriously?

“Agencies are increasingly taking effectiveness more seriously and I expect that trend will continue for a number of reasons,” says Burge. “We must be more accountable for growth; we need to ensure the creative product works and is measured; we are seeing more effective ways to measure effectiveness; and we need to consistently differentiate ourselves from our competition based on work that works. As for creative awards, they are and will remain relevant as there is clear evidence of a connection between creativity and effectiveness leading to growth.” 

Work that cuts through the clutter, changes consumer behaviour and leads to growth for clients’ businesses is what agencies should be aiming for, asserts Burge, who began his career at JWT London in 1998 and joined BBDO in 2004. 

At the Dubai Lynx in March judges will consider work that has been creatively awarded or shortlisted by the time it reaches the creative effectiveness jury.The work will then be judged on how it performed against set objectives, the competitive and market context and the metrics used.  

“If you look at the most awarded work around the world, both for creativity and effectiveness, we see better integrated work than ever before, new technology and a risk-loving approach to trying new things is popping up more often,” says Burge. “I see a lot of really good craft across the board, and investment of time and thinking to make the work across all touch points better. With all that, I also see that as in the past, it is great ideas that cut through. Ideas that are new, brave and have purpose and emotion at their core.” 

How does Burge wish to see the industry develop in terms of its relationship with effectiveness?

“I think creativity and effectiveness are part of the same thing,” he replies. “They are the reason we exist and we can’t have one without the other. In the future, I see them coming closer together at award shows in a number of ways, primarily as they are not mutually exclusive concepts and we need to as an industry aim for and deliver on both.”