How a new shared language can advance Creative Effectiveness, by LIONS’ Susie Walker

By Susie Walker, head of awards, LIONS.

We know, through analysing years of Lion-winning work, that increased creativity drives effectiveness. But through speaking to our Creative Effectiveness Lions jury members, entrants and brands, we also knew that creative companies were finding articulating what truly effective creative work looked like increasingly difficult.

We wanted to dig deeper, to understand how the industry could become consistently successful at developing highly effective creative marketing and what the barriers were to success.

To find out, we commissioned one of the largest studies of creative marketing effectiveness in the world, alongside our partners at WARC. Marketing effectiveness experts, James Hurman and Peter Field, analysed and compared nearly 5000 case studies – including Creative Effectiveness Lions winners from 2011-2019 – spanning 10 years, from every major market in the world.

Was there a winning formula, could we create a clearer understanding of effectiveness that the industry could own, and could this drive change in Lion-winning work?

The answer was yes. What Hurman and Field found echoed the opinions of our juries. Their study showed, above all else, that a universal definition of effectiveness was missing, alongside a ‘shared language’.

We published the results in The Effectiveness Code white paper, which provides a clear ‘universal language framework’ for the first time. It showed clear groupings in measuring and articulating the effectiveness of creative work.

A Creative Effectiveness Lion-winning campaign will encompass one or more of these:

An Influential idea – from an effectiveness perspective, the ‘buzz’ created by influential idea campaigns is what defines their success. Using creativity to maximise engagement and sharing, an influential idea is highly original. Its success is tracked using measurements like campaign recall through prompted or unprompted campaign mentions, social shares, earned impressions and earned media value.

Behaviour Breakthrough – these campaigns use creativity to change the purchase behaviour of customers, or change other forms of behaviour relevant to the brand’s success. Measurable objectives for ‘behaviour breakthrough’ include penetration – the percentage of people or households buying the product or service – as well as loyalty and how readily consumers favour the brand and repurchase their products.

A Sales Spike campaign uses creativity to drive growth in sales, market share, or profitability for a brand – the recent trend has seen a focus on the short term, temporary growth – through, for example, sales promotions and direct marketing campaigns. To measure ‘sales spike’ success, a campaign’s performance can be tracked through sales metrics including market share, as well as return on investment tracking.

Brand Builder campaigns use creativity to improve brand health. In an increasingly competitive landscape, businesses excel when they build their brand to gain a competitive advantage, and bond with consumers in order to earn a high level of trust and likeability. Measuring ‘brand builder’ success leans on health metrics such as brand awareness and brand preference, including the percentage of people who say they’d buy the brand over others.

There are also two further groupings that represent success over time. Commercial Triumph – where brands have created sustained success over time – and the Enduring Icon, the pinnacle of effective work, where brands have created a long-term brand and sales growth.

The Creative Effectiveness Lions evolve

During judging at Cannes Lions, we noticed that at the important Lion-awarding stages, in particular, the Creative Effectiveness jury struggled to make sense of results, and crucially compare the successes of different pieces of work when success had been articulated using different criteria.

In 2021, we took the principles found in the ‘code’ to reshape the Creative Effectiveness Lions and brought this new shared language to the core of the Lion and in the process, made the entry process more robust.

The refreshed Lion allows the jury and entrants to highlight which areas of effectiveness a campaign hits, against set objectives. We have provided best practice ways to calculate key measures, such as ROI profit, and clear definitions on sometimes differently interpreted measurements such as earned media.

Because of this robustness, entering the Creative Effectiveness Lions is now an essential exercise for any creative company that wants to measure their effectiveness and see where they need to grow and improve.

The ‘universal language’ enables the effective community – the strategists and planners – to measure and communicate internally about what excellence looks like on a global scale. It’s a way for creative companies to bring a brand along on the journey and produce both creatively awarded and truly effective work.

Find out more about the Creative Effectiveness Lions https://www.canneslions.com/enter/awards/impact/creative-effectiveness-lions#/
and download the Creative Effectiveness Code whitepaper: https://www.canneslions.com/about/news/creative-effectiveness-ladder