Points of View

Risk-taking, creativity and humour – just a few of the criterion RADs judges
looked for among this year’s 700 entries

A mixed bag of the amazing and the mediocre – this seems to be the judges’
overall verdict of the entries into this year’s Recruitment Advertising Awards.
Among the wide-ranging categories judges were pleased to find some exceptional
work. They were disappointed, however, with the fact that among more than 700
entries there was so much sameness.

Gayle Cauwood, recruitment services consultant for Virgin Atlantic Airways,
says, "There is still such a lack of creativity. Something has to stand
out to have any chance of winning. For example, many advertisers still insist
on shots with the text going around it. They are not original or
inventive."

Anne Dean, head of HR at Sothebys Europe agrees, having found it a difficult
search to find that "something different". "Overall the standard
is patchy. There are good areas, but there are ones which are dull and lacking
in creativity."

In the past, RAD Awards have seen the theme of colour as the issue for
debate. But in this, the 11th year of the awards, the burning issue was
risk-taking.

"Those that take risks and are prepared to be dangerous tend to think
differently, so I mark them up."says Andy Redden, director of Bernard
Hodes.

Among the 17 categories the judges viewed there were some in which the
standard of work was outstanding. Central Government and Government Agencies,
as usual, impressed many of the judges with powerful representations. Although
some judges believe there was a danger in advertisers cynically playing on
emotional heartstrings, it was generally agreed that the standard was
exceptionally high, especially considering the limited budgets of the public
sector.

The Graduate/School Leavers category also impressed. Here, at least, it
seemed agencies were prepared to take some risks. Vicky Brunt, HR assistant for
the Sema Group says, "This was the most innovative category. There was
more humour, it was more risque and people were prepared to break a few
boundaries."

But Brunt expresses a concern shared by many on the panel – in some cases,
things were getting a little too raunchy. "Although they are obviously
doing this to catch people’s attention, in some areas it is just not
appropriate," she says.

Simon Russell, creative director for Park Human Resources, agrees.
"There is more sex and nudity than ever before. Some are very cheeky and
it suits the target audience but some are just cheap."

Candida Cox, resourcing officer for Sainsbury’s, believes humour is very
important. "Adverts that are funny or clever score good marks, although
they should not be too clever. People will not spend hours trying to get the
joke."

One category disappointed almost all the judges. The Best Use of Electronic
Media Category – which in previous years formed part of the "off the
page" Innovations category – clearly still has a long way to go. Suffering
from a lack of entries, the judges felt that this category ranged from
"excellent" to "competent".

Some believed that for anyone who uses the Internet regularly the entries
were unimpressive and little attention had been paid to practical
considerations such as text size, download times and accessibility.
"People want directness and speed – that is why they are using the
Web," says John Williams, head of personnel at Crewe and Nantwich Borough
Council.

Barry Geleit, head of design for Reed Business Information, was also
disappointed by the lack of development in this area. "Perhaps recruitment
agencies feel threatened that this area takes away their link to clients,"
he suggests.

The Personnel & Training category, while impressive for some,
disappointed others – including those working in the sector. "Here we have
HR professionals talking about their sector and although entries are competent
they are not outstanding. Clichés abound and the presentation should really be
a lot more attractive," Anne Dean says.

Nigel Baldwin, group HR director for avionics group Marconi Electronics
Systems, says, "Here the adverts are very conceptual and lack creativity.
There is no spark and they do not reflect the changes that have taken place in
HR."

Recruitment brochures were seen as a particularly impressive group of
entries. Colourful and innovative, it was clear that large amounts of money had
been spent on the brochures entered. They also targeted their market well.

Says Bruce Dorskind, chairman of Dorskind Group, "Agencies seem to have
taken more time to get an understanding of their target audience. Brochures are
after all a costly and permanent monument to an organisation."

For some judges, corporate image was intrinsically tied to the quality of
adverts. Simon Russell says, "Companies with the clearest mission
statement and the most to say had the best adverts. Companies need to have
crystallised what they want to say and what they believe makes them
different."

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