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The 5 habits of highly effective advertisers

Kantar's Creative Effectiveness Awards reveals the world's most effective ads of 2020, and what makes them great.

At Kantar, we love great creative content, and we love it even more when that creativity is harnessed to deliver against brand and marketing objectives. Each year, we test over 10,000 ads for our clients around the world with Link, an independently validated solution. Each year, we learn more about winning ads and the ingredients for success.

Kantar’s Creative Effectiveness Awards recognise the best TV and digital ads from around the world – as judged by consumers. They celebrate great advertising that drives sales in the short term and equity in the long term. While we recognise that not all ads seek to do both, our approach provides a framework for assessment and recognises the power of creativity to build brands, not just activate sales.

An exceptional year

2020 was a year like no other, and our work showed that people wanted advertising to continue, as it provided a sense of normality at a time of 24-hour Covid-19 news cycles. For the most part, consumers were processing content in the same way during the pandemic as they did before. Advertisers that held their resolve and invested in their brand during the downturn saw their bravery rewarded.

Revealed: the most creative and effective ads of 2020

This year, we saw some amazing ads that are both creative and effective. Our winners come from a diverse range of brands, categories and countries, and use many different tactics in their creativity. What they share in common is a commitment to creative excellence and a focus on ensuring their work performs exactly as intended. 

Consumers rated Heineken’s ‘Cheers to all’, the world’s most creatively effective ad for 2020. In this ad, Heineken addresses gender-related drinks stereotypes in a way that is light-hearted rather than preachy or self-righteous and for that reason is loved by viewers. 

Have a look at the great ads that consumers ranked in our top 20 from around the world in 2020. Congratulations to all our winners.

1HeinekenUSACheers to allPublicis

C3 Creative Code and Content (Stuttgart )


Burger King


Consignes 2 Sécurity - The Retour





It Comes Naturally

BBDO New York and JOY Collective




Make their year, with Galaxy Buds Live





And a lot of Milka

DAVID Madrid




Find your Scene

Google Brand Studio




TENA Silhouette Washable Underwear (I will wear what I want)

AMV BBDO, London




Keeping your business moving forward

Leo Burnett


Adrenaline Rush





YouTube Kids


YouTube Kids Brand Anthem Film



Avocados from Mexico


Avocados From Mexico Shopping Network*

Energy BBDO Chicago




Gatorade GOAT CAMP

TBWA / Chiat de Los Ángeles


Toyota Corolla


Vente Étiquettes Rouges

The Showroom




Pimp my goat



Nissan Sentra


Joy Ride



Panadol Actifast


Delivery Rider Malaysia

Grey Group Singapore


EBay Australia


The Fast and the Furious

Che Proximity Australia


Siemens Home Appliances



MullenLowe Istanbul


Hershey's Kisses


Bells to Blossoms


*Not currently available online

Kantar's CX+ 2020: Reboot your CX understanding to supercharge TMT growth

As people have adapted to living more of their lives from home due to the pandemic, how people experience your tech, media or telecommunications (TMT) brand converts the crisis into an opportunity - if you're ready for it...

By Mark Molenaar, Issued by Kantar 4 Mar 2021

The five habits of highly effective advertisers

While there is no one size fits all solution to creative and effective advertising – we observed five habits from our winners that ensure their advertising will deliver for their brand - in both the short and long term. These can act as guidelines for all advertisers.

  1. Be distinctive
    Create the ability to be noticed and remembered in a world where there’s a profusion of ads. Your ad is not just competing in its category. It is competing for attention against the world. Stand out from the category as a minimum, and ideally from any other advertising.

  2. Brand intrinsically
    Make sure that the attention won by the ad is in the service of the brand. Ensure the brand is at the heart of your creative or get your branding cues right. A surprising number of brands forget this.

  3. Be meaningfully different
    To grow market share or defend premium pricing you need to show how your brand fulfils consumers’ functional, emotional and social needs in the category and illustrates your uniqueness compared to the competition.

  4. Trigger an emotional response
    Making the viewer feel something wins engagement for the ad, bypassing the natural tendency to screen out advertising. It also has positive effects on the brand’s emotional associations. 

  5. Talk with your consumers
    Successful marketers know they can get ‘too close’ to their brand and lose perspective, so they listen to viewer feedback throughout the creative development process and refine their ads accordingly.

Get your recipe right

As well as great habits, we noted many creative devices or ingredients used effectively by our 2020 winners. Some of our winning ads tackle diversity or challenge gender stereotypes (and we know progressive ads drive greater ROI), others use celebrity creatively, some nailed humour during challenging times – and much more.

Find out more about the winning ads, and download our booklet, ‘The five habits of highly effective advertisers’, to discover more about the winning tactics and habits. 

Join the conversation on LinkedIn and Twitter.

About Link 

Kantar’s Link solution is the world’s most trusted ad testing solution, having been independently validated and used over 215,000 times. It offers predictive and diagnostic measures to guide ad optimisation to maximise that ROI. It is available on Kantar Marketplace so ads can be tested with confidence in as few as six hours. Questions? Reach out to us at moc.ratnak@scitanafdnarb  

About the author 

Daren Poole is the global head of creative at Kantar

Kantar is the world's leading evidence-based insights and consulting company. We have a complete, unique and rounded understanding of how people think, feel and act; globally and locally in over 90 markets. By combining the deep expertise of our people, our data resources and benchmarks, our innovative analytics and technology we help our clients understand people and inspire growth.



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