The Caples Awards 2014

Jason Andrews / Nicky Bullard

Issue 34 | March 2015

The Caples Awards were founded by the redoubtable Andi Emerson in 1978 to recognize and reward creativity in direct marketing.

Named after the genius copywriter John Caples, author of “Tested Advertising Methods”, The Caples have enjoyed a new lease of life in recent years. New categories and a new interest in direct by agencies of all persuasion have led to soaring standards and record entry numbers.

As a show, The Caples are significant enough for top creative directors to pay their own way to New York for the judging.

Two who judged at this year’s show were Jason Andrews, ECD of Rapp London, and Nicky Bullard, ECD of Lida London.

Here are their viewpoints of The Caples 2014.

Jason Andrews

This is the only ‘direct’ awards show to recognise ideas above everything else. And with judges from places as diverse as Dubai, Switzerland and New Zealand, those ideas get truly international exposure.

Many agencies exploit that for tactical advantage. It’s a chance to test-run their big pushes for the coming awards calendar before a multi-cultural jury. So a peculiarity of
the Caples is that you see some of the odder, outlying work that won’t make the agency cut later. Plus you have a sneak peek at the ones that will be weighed down by metal in a few months’ time. Having said that, these awards are in November. So some agencies treat them like a final lap of honour for their already-garlanded campaigns. In fact, all credit to this year's judges that not every big Caples winner had already had its day in the Mediterranean sun.

Whatever. It’s a privileged splosh through a huge dollop of the world’s richest creative cream.

Take ANZ Bank’s wonderful ‘gAyTM’ campaign from Australia. At its heart, this is simply corporate sponsorship. But it achieves a degree of authenticity and integrity far beyond the usual slap-my-logo-here efforts. In fact, by using the actual infrastructure of the bank to get the message across, it shows just how seriously – and fabulously, darling – the bank is taking this. Primped to diamante´-encrusted perfection, these ATMs were as camped-up as Sydney’s Mardi Gras itself, right down to the rainbow-printed receipts. Some dazzled in sequins, others sported fake moustaches, but all of them donated the usual transaction fees immediately to an LGBTI charity whenever anyone used the service.

Another favourite was JC Decaux Belgium’s ‘Street View Unpaid Bills’. This is one of those ideas that was hiding there in plain sight, waiting for someone to notice and run with it. It’s based on the fact that the streets on Google Street View are plastered with posters that have stayed up for years beyond their intended life, or more pointedly, beyond their agreed media deals. Those bright sparks at JC Decaux saw a new business opportunity in this and sent a huge unpaid bill to the advertisers, along with a framed photograph of the poster in question. Of course, this was all in good humour. The real intention of the bill was to secure a meeting to discuss how clients could be making more of their media plans, including of course, digital media.

Finally, I was taken by Nivea Brasil’s ‘Protection’ ad. Some of you may remember last year’s award-winning idea from the same client, where they turned a print ad into a solar panel that could charge your phone – the premise being that you can spend longer out in the sun thanks to Nivea. It was a great example of how brands can extrapolate beyond product features and end up at a genuine purpose. This year they went one better, starting at the idea of ‘protection in the sun’ and ending up protecting sons and daughters.

As every parent knows, a day at the beach is equal parts delight for kids and anxiety for mums and dads, especially when it’s crowded. How can you focus on your best-seller or your volleyball serve when you’re trying to keep an eye on your little ones? Enter Nivea’s protection ad. Each ad has a strip with an embedded RFI chip which you can tear out and wrap around your child’s wrist. The wristband works with an app that lets you set boundaries for how far your child can wander, together with an alarm to alert you when they’ve strayed too far.

Clever stuff.

And a great example of the magic formula for many award winners today: shift the focus from product to purpose, invest in tech innovation, wrap it all up in a creative concept, then polish your shoes and practice the walk to the podium. 

Nicky Bullard

When Patrick asked me to write a bit about my time in NYC this year I had a big smile on my face. Not because I was loving the prospect of writing 600 words over the Christmas break but because, well, it was bloody great.

The best thing about the Caples is that it's not pretentious.

All the judges have a love of Direct and are well-versed in what makes great Direct – so there's no debate about that. Thank fuck. We just laughed at, cried at and picked at the work.

The juries were made up of a maximum of just 6 people for each category.

The tech worked.

And the food was nice. That sounds trivial but is very important when you have 10 hours of judging to get through. And you're a pig.

But that's enough about the experience. What about the work?

Well there was the normal mix of the weird and wonderful (and I'm not talking about the judges), quite a bit we'd seen before at other shows and some new stuff – stuff you really did walk away from saying you wished you'd done that.

And the trend of wearable technology continues. One entry that sticks out for me was the Alert Shirt, created for Foxtel by Che Proximity. Basically, it was Foxtel's way of getting their football fan customers closer to the game. Wear the shirt, feel what the players feel. Every thud and tackle. Ooh, getting banged by the whole footy team throughout the whole match – what's not to like?

Sorry mum.

Anyway, I was also rather taken with the loyalty work for Audi. Looking at a client challenge, and not just solving it, but solving it in a beautiful, beautiful way. I really wished I done that. Damn.

Craft wise, Clemenger BBDO's Mistakes ad won a Gold in viral video marketing. I'm not sure it's Direct, but I tell you what, for me, it's one of the best bits of advertising I've seen in years. I didn't judge it, as it wasn't in my categories, and I'm glad I didn't because I would have moaned about it being in the wrong show.

Probably the most fun bit of work unless you are a vegetarian and animal lover, was the Great Monteith's Meatpack Hunt. Beer, meat, killing and drinking all rolled into one.

I guess the only thing that's a bit odd is the award ceremony itself. It's on the last day of judging. So you only get to pick the award up if you are in NYC already.

That seems a shame and is a newish thing with the Caples. I think after all the blood, sweat and tears the creatives should have the chance to climb up on the stage.

Thankfully, if their work hasn't picked up at other shows already, it will. So they'll have their time in the spotlight.

We picked up a few bits of metal. And I got around to picking up some new heels from DvF. So all was good.

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