WARC reveals insights from the 2021 Cannes Creative Effectiveness Lions winners

WARC releases report with insights from the 2021 Cannes Lions winners, identifying common trends including technology, amplified experiences, agile creativity and belief-led bravery that lead to commercial success.

WARC has released a report identifying trends and themes common to the award-winning campaigns of this year’s Cannes Creative Effectiveness Lions, which celebrate the measurable impact of creativity.

Chiara Manco, Commissioning Editor, Case Studies, WARC, sayd: “To unearth insights into what makes a campaign both creative and effective, we’ve interviewed both jurors and winners and analysed the metadata from all entries.

“Our findings, together with the award-winning case studies included in this report, will help agencies and advertisers alike use the power of creativity for greater effectiveness.”

The four key themes highlighted in the report are:

Tech is creativity’s invisible enabler

Tech’s role in communications is evolving from protagonist to support act, working behind the scenes to enrich creative ideas. From Burger King’s geofencing to German Rail’s programmatic targeting, winners used tech as a spark-plug and force multiplier in their activities. Work by Pernod Ricard and Huggies also highlighted how science, data and technology can all work in service of emotional storytelling.

Jury member Jean-Paul Burge, Chairman and CEO, BBDO Asia, says: “There’s a nuanced but important differentiation between developing a new piece of tech that we argue is ‘the great idea’ and using tech to amplify, enable or catalyse our idea, which is where the genius really lies.”

Amplified experiences drive cultural impact

Several winners looked beyond the visual and the verbal to create culturally-relevant experiences which relied on influencers and PR for amplification. Often making use of unconventional touchpoints – from O.N.E.’s sleeping bags to KMSZ’s DNA-testing lollipop – such work showed how unexpected creativity drives media coverage as well as cultural and business impact.

Judge Neil Dawson, Chief Global Strategy Of Wunderman Thompson, comments: “It’s important to showcase that creativity is not just the visual and the verbal: it can be a product, an experience, the changing of a word. There’s no singular definition of creativity.”

Agile creativity benefits the whole funnel

Among this year’s winners were brands that tackled apparently mundane briefs through agile, short-term initiatives. Applying creativity and challenger thinking to lower-funnel activities, winners Huggies, Burger King and German Rail proved how such an approach can work alongside long-term efforts to strengthen brands in the face of competitors.

Jury president Ann Mukherjee, Chairman and CEO, Pernod Ricard North America, says: “In today’s world of performance marketing, creativity has to go from the top to the bottom of the funnel. You may get briefs that are not the sexiest, but there is opportunity for exciting creativity in mundane tasks too.”

Belief-led bravery leads to commercial impact

Grand Prix winner Nike showed how brands can reap the commercial benefits of standing up for issues that matter to their consumers and are true to their business.

As Jury President Ann Mukherjee, said: “It’s a virtuous cycle that we wish to see more brands embracing: touching lives is what makes people come to your brand.”

Included in the report are:

  • In-depth exploration of the themes, including expert commentary and what each theme means for advertisers, agencies and media owners.
  • A deep-dive into the 2021 Grand Prix winner, Nike’s Dream Crazy by Wieden+Kennedy Portland.
  • Summaries of winning case studies including results, takeaways and judges’ comments.
  • Data analysis covering campaign objectives, creative strategy, media mix, hard and soft metrics, budgets and durations.

Summing up the importance of rewarding creative effectiveness, Jury President Ann Mukherjee of Pernod Ricard, says: “In a performance-driven marketing environment, creativity is still the oxygen to growth. If we are to thrive as advertisers, we have to help our CEOs and CFOs understand that what we do as an industry is the heart of what drives profitable growth.” 

A sample of the report can be downloaded here. The full report is available to WARC subscribers.