Cause and effect

Would that life were always like this, with groups upheld as icons of creativity scoring high in the charts for commercially effective design as well.

The message isn’t quite as clear this year as it was last, when Williams Murray Hamm held pole position both for its DBA Design Effectiveness Award wins and its overall success in creative awards. But with it and the likes of Pearlfisher, Lewis Moberly and Elmwood ranking high in this chart, we can be sure that the Design Business Association is back on track for having great work doing well in its awards scheme.

On the face of it, the DBA Design Effectiveness Awards have nothing to do with the creative quality of a piece of work. Increasingly, though, projects such as WMH’s outstanding Sainsbury’s So Organic range and Elmwood’s highly inventive Serious** naming and identity for a waste management company have proved commercially effective.

Last year, though, there was a glitch and design purists were majorly disgruntled by the success of the Foster’s Lager Waterfall multipack, created by BR&Me for brewery Scottish & Newcastle UK. It won Grand Prix in the effectiveness awards, earning third place in these charts and, through it, staying in equal fourth place in this year’s cumulative ranking.

But, that was regardless of a design that was deemed ‘a fairly unremarkable sector parody’ by Richard Murray of Williams Murray Hamm. Enterprise IG managing creative director and awards stalwart Glenn Tutssel said at the time, ‘When I see the DBA Grand Prix winner, I applaud the sales success, but not at the expense of the innovative reputation of our industry.’

Such was the furore within the industry that the DBA took stock of its awards, even though Raymond Turner, who chaired the 2006 judges, said that Foster’s Waterfall packaging was ‘a clear winner’ and the DBA board said there ‘was no case to question the allocation’ of the Grand Prix to it. It has now instituted a Gold, Silver and Bronze system for each category and that shift is reflected in the scores allocated in these charts to the winners this year.

The Grand Prix – won this year by London Associates for the Optac digital download device – is awarded 25 points, as before; Gold in any category gets ten points, Silver five points and Bronze three.

Whether or not this system will silence the critics remains to be seen, but, certainly, few will quibble with this year’s outcome (see pages 37 and 39). Serial winners include chart-topper Pearlfisher with its Golds for the Little Dish identity and Waitrose family toiletries packs and Silver for Highland Park, Pizza Express pre-packed chilled pizza and Blossom & Bloom. Lewis Moberly took Gold for the Maximuscle and Kingsdown identities and Pol Roger and Waitrose speciality cheeses packs and Elmwood continued its run with a Silver for the Coles rebrand and a Bronze for the STV rebrand.

Newcomers this year include Grand Prix winner London Associates, which enters on the strength of the Optac device. As with most awards-related listings, branding and packaging consultancies have the best chance to score points in the effectiveness charts, given the number of categories open to them. But, groups such as London Associates, Therefore Design, Seymour Powell and Kinneir Dufort show that it can be done for product design.

One of the difficulties, though, is that this awards scheme attracts more regulars than any other. Most of these are DBA members, often with a representative on the DBA board. The Team, WMH’s stablemate within marketing services group Loewy, whose managing director Julian Grice is a long-serving DBA official, is a case in point.

With such an illustrious judging panel, there is no question that the dealings are fair and square, whether or not the consultancy is a DBA activist. But it would be great to see a broader selection of consultancies entering. An effectiveness award is, after all, a great prize to have, particularly when balanced with a few creative honours. Clients love effectiveness awards, we’re told. So too, therefore, should more design consultancies. ‹
 Top 20 – DBA Design Effectiveness Awards

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