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Cannes Lions Special Section

#Cannes2023: What an award-winning creative effectiveness entry looks like

Warc's Creative Effectiveness Lions 2023 - Insights from the winners, a report identifying trends and themes common to the award-winning campaigns of this year's Cannes Creative Effectiveness Lions, celebrating the measurable impact of creativity, has been released.
Image supplied. Warc’s Creative Effectiveness Lions 2023 - Insights from the winners, identifies trends and themes common to the award-winning campaigns of this year’s Cannes Creative Effectiveness Lions
Image supplied. Warc’s Creative Effectiveness Lions 2023 - Insights from the winners, identifies trends and themes common to the award-winning campaigns of this year’s Cannes Creative Effectiveness Lions

Based on judges’ commentary, interviews with winners and industry experts, the report reveals what an award-winning creative effectiveness entry looks like and provides practical tips and best practices for future entry papers.

In addition, a data lens has been applied to the winners to reveal the most common media and creative strategies used in this award-winning body of work.

Amy Rodgers, head of content, Warc Creative, says, “Findings in this study are critical to understanding how marketers are meeting business goals and driving sustainable impact over time.

“The winners of this category are unquestionably creative, and now awarded for their effectiveness too. They are simple but disruptive ideas that really work to drive business growth.”

Commenting on the winners, jury president Devika Bulchandani, global CEO, Ogilvy, says, “The winning cases did the fundamentals of marketing in a brilliant manner. They used brand equity - both brand and product - and then used creativity to amplify that equity which led to strong business results.”

Four key themes

Four key themes highlighted in the report.

  1. Finding joy and levity
  2. After a few years of decline in humour in advertising, 2022 saw an uptick and this year’s creative effectiveness winners reflected a more light-hearted approach, even to serious issues. Humour is memorable, distinctive and persuasive, and people gravitate towards positive emotions.

    "Just because a subject is serious or heavy or critical doesn't mean the communication about it has to be the same. Serious can easily become boring, heavy can easily become polarizing, and critical can easily become paralyzing," comments Gaetan du Peloux, chief creative officer, Marcel Paris.

    Examples that all used this strategy to their advantage in very different campaigns. include:

    • Invaluable Food by Leo Burnett for food festival Madrid Fusion
    • Hack Market by Marcel Paris for online marketplace Back Market
    • Apologize the Rainbow for confectionary brand Skittles by DDB Chicago

  3. Distinctive assets become the campaign
  4. This year’s creative effectiveness category winners saw brand equity in distinctive assets used at the core of the campaign: the assets became the idea.

    Examples of campaigns that applied creativity to their product iconicity and tapped into the emotional connection that consumers have with brands they love include:

    • Foamy Haircut by Africa São Paulo for Brazilian beer brand Brahma
    • Draw Ketchup for sauce brand Heinz Ketchup by Rethink Canada.

    On the award-winning Heinz campaign, Julian Morgan, group strategy director, Rethink, says, “Almost every brief starts with the importance of the decades of equity the brand [Heinz] has built. Our thinking is that if these pieces of equity linger in people's heads, then half the battle is done.”

  5. Redefining purpose
  6. There’s a shift in purpose from brands driving change not as an obligation but as an opportunity to create shared value; benefiting both the business and the challenge or issue they are aligned with.

    The Grand Prix, Shah Rukh Khan My Ad, for chocolate brand Cadbury by Ogilvy Mumbai, created shared value by supporting the supply chain for its Celebrations product in India by promoting small businesses.

    “The smart thing with this campaign was how they weaved the product into the story. The product was integral, but the story was bigger than just the product. The story was a big brand, doing a big act, for a big occasion. Using its product but also serving the community at large,” says Tahaab Rais, group chief strategy officer, Publicis MENAT and jury member, commenting on the Grand Prix winning campaign.

  7. Driving fame through earned media
  8. Be it to create behavioural change, drive ticket sales or raise money, winners harnessed the power of earned media to generate mass attention and participate in culture.

    Reflecting this change, the use of word-of-mouth as both a media channel and an objective, is up this year.

    The crowdfunding campaign Our Worst Vintage by Seven.One Ad Factory for wine brand Flutwein, relied on the power of donated and earned media to reach, and raise, millions.

#flutwein Case Study from White Rabbit on Vimeo.

Creative effectiveness principles

“Each of the winners exhibited the principles of creative effectiveness: there was strong objective setting; strategy was contextual, relevant and insightful; distinctive assets were out in force; budgets were balanced across brand and performance; and the use of emotion shone through. The judges were unanimous in their feeling that this was work they wished they had been a part of,” says Warc’s Amy Rodgers.

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