Heading to Chicago in early December was not really on my wish list this year (or any other year, really) as I enjoy the more moderate winter climate of Tampa. However, when I received a note that asked if I was interested in being a judge for the prestigious Effie Awards, I threw caution to the wind, went looking for as many layers of clothes that I can find and booked a flight.

In the world of shopper marketing, the Effies are a partnership with the Path to Purchase Institute, the global association that supports the needs of brand manufacturers, retailers, agencies and all types of solution providers along the path to purchase and annually recognize the year’s most effective shopper marketing activities across multiple categories. They’re not a big deal, they’re the big deal in our industry.  

Consumer packaged goods companies spent more than $12 billion on traditional TV ads but just over $6 billion spent on digital ads during the same period. Overall advertising dollars from CPG companies are somewhere in the $225 billion range. I was now being asked to compare the creativity, execution and effectiveness of these campaigns in a session of advertising/marketing professionals with discerning eyes.  

The old advertising or philosophical adage about using big ideas and not just big budgets, well, I got to review a little bit of both. In the ten submissions I was tasked with reviewing for further inclusion to the next round (already screened by the organization to narrow down), I found some wonderful marketing campaigns that drove sales exponentially and sometimes even provided some unexpectedly unique results.  

The truly exceptional programs seemed to have one fairly obvious tactic to me. Each targeted a specific insight to drive the message and focused on the retailer specific audience with components custom designed for the grocer. This is the true essence of shopper marketing and by solving a problem for the consumer, perceived or real, that’s where the value of a campaign is shown. Yes, sales effectiveness is a measurable statistic and there are always others but in one case, a brand new sub-category was created and the retailer received the initial benefit to a large segment of their consumers.

My take away: Whether it’s a Hershey’s, Coke, P&G or Purina activation--big ideas and budgets are certainly helpful to drive sales--but no matter the retailer, every CPG campaign should try to strive for KISS - Keep It Simple for Shoppers (and Effies judges).


Ari Rothman is the VP/Accounts & Marketing Services at Social Forces, and a 20+ year CPG/retail and restaurant marketing veteran with account experience in integrated social media platforms and now leads new business development.  To contact Ari or hear more about Social Forces email Ari@SocialForces.com or call 813-775-2282 Ext. 700