Is Vinnies really ‘Australia’s most effective brand’? No, of course not

effie indexI suspect that you’ll be reading a bit about the St Vincent de Paul Society in the trade press today.

Because “officially” it’s the most effective brand in Australia. And the thing that’s made it “official” is a press release from the organisers of the Effies Awards for effectiveness.

Sadly, wonderful as Vinnies is, the title is bullshit.

What it actually means is that a single well crafted case study did quite well in a number of different categories of The Effies.

The issue is the same one raised by Darren Woolley a few days ago – rankings are becoming meaningless when a single good piece of work, backed with an awesomely crafted case study video, wins across multiple categories or multiple awards.

effies announcmeent st vincent

The Effies press release

In this case, GPY&R Sydney entered into the Effies a case study for a project it did for Vinnies. It was a good idea, persuading musicians to donate signed castoffs and hide them across Vinnies stores. It’s not unlike a long running UK charity project which sees art postcards by celebrities sold off blind alongside less well known work for charity.

But nonetheless, it’s was a nifty piece of work, as the case study video demonstrates.

So it was shortlisted in five categories of the Effies – for small budget, retail, state campaign, social and most original thinking. It won two golds and three silver:

effies st vincent

Source: Effies Index website

Which put them ahead of any other brands:

effie brands

Source: Effies Index

How AdNews reports the release

How AdNews reports the release

It’s unfair to pick on Vinnies too much here – it was a good project for a great cause. It’s just not, on any commonsense basis, Australia’s most effective brand.

Personally, I’d be looking in the direction of brands like Coles, that worry far more about till sales than creative approbation.

Today’s announcement comes weeks after OMD Sydney caused some surprise by being named global media agency of the year by the Cannes Lions, based on entries put forward by partner creative agency DDB. The work was good, but much as I like the folk at OMD Sydney, I don’t think any of them would be immodest enough to claim that they really are the very best in the world.

How B&T reports the release

How B&T reports the release

And of course, we currently see McCann sitting on top of various creative rankings thanks to one brilliant (Dumb Ways To Die) campaign.

But for me, this Effies announcement is the one that makes me think that things have gone too far.

The Effies are supposed to be about rigour.

How Campaign Brief reports the release

How Campaign Brief reports the release

They are an opportunity for the marketing industry to demonstrate scientifically that good creative has a disproportionately large impact on business results.

Making spurious claims undermines that.


Tim Burrowes


  1. Ricki
    30 Jul 13
    1:38 pm

  2. As is true for 99% of awards programmes, these are the ‘best of the entries’ and no more than that.

  3. Paul Eveleigh
    30 Jul 13
    3:02 pm

  4. What does ‘most effective’ mean? A claim becomes credible when it’s specific, not abstract.

  5. No award here
    30 Jul 13
    3:57 pm

  6. Vinnies would be more effective if they didn’t have to exist. In fact, a true measure of their effectiveness as a brand would be if they disappeared altogether, then their job would have been done.

    The gongs are just back slapping at the expense of the most disinfranchised.

  7. Ben Lilley
    30 Jul 13
    5:38 pm

  8. Minor point of clarification Tim.

    The statement that “we currently see McCann sitting on top of various creative rankings thanks to one brilliant (Dumb Ways To Die) campaign” is not entirely correct.

    McCann Australia has in fact been extensively awarded at Cannes and numerous other shows over the past year across several brilliant campaigns, including V/Line Guilt Trips, Impossible Orchestra / Care Aware, Corelle and L’Oreal.

  9. mumbrella
    30 Jul 13
    5:39 pm

  10. A fair point, Ben. Particularly re Impossible Orchestra. I think I should have used the word “mainly”.


    Tim – Mumbrella

  11. Wild Oscar
    31 Jul 13
    5:49 pm

  12. Anyone who has read an Effies entry lately will probably struggle to read through the first half of the entry. They’re excruciatingly dull and rarely ground-breaking.

  13. Margaret Zabel
    31 Jul 13
    6:11 pm

  14. As organisers of the Effies in Australia, we as the Communications Council will take your feedback to Effies Worldwide. You raise a good point and it is consistent with our view. The Effies have been well regarded around the world owing to their robust judging process and focus on measuring campaign effectiveness. This approach undermines what the Effies stand for. We appreciate your comments.