The call for campaigns that not only wave the magic wand of creativity, but clearly deliver on effectiveness is getting louder. Just recently, the WARC Effectiveness Award took place, honoring that exact combination for the first time. Our very own Martin Albrecht, CEO CROSSMEDIA Worldwide, was a member of the jury and explains why the award has the potential to transform the industry.
This year’s Cannes Lions have been handed out, albeit in a more understated way than the typical hoopla generated by thousands fueled by Rosé on the Croisette. But as we gradually move towards a return to some semblance of normal, will we do it with wisdom accrued from lessons learned?
One place to look is the WARC Effectiveness Awards, the less flashy sibling to the Cannes Lions. These kudos were also handed out last week to no fanfare, but there is no better place to look for brands wanting guidance in the post-Covid world.
The WARC Effectiveness Awards– yes, it could do with a catchier name – should become the trophy of choice for brands/agencies who prioritize outcomes. They should share mindspace with the Effies as the bastions of celebrating creative effectiveness. As an inaugural jury member this year, I would like to provide some perspective.
Creativity has to be an accelerant for commercial success
There are plenty of awards celebrating great creative, but a growing cohort of clients are more interested in being honored for effectiveness. This is as it should be. Creative wizardry is only as relevant as an igniter or accelerant for client commercial success. The agency world’s bad habit over the years has been to become too enamored with its cleverness and less so on driving business results for clients. The WARC Effectiveness Awards will hopefully become an antidote to these misguided priorities.
Even before the pandemic hit, there were brave voices speaking out about the need to flip the script. During the 2019 Cannes Lions, marketing consultant, Peter Field issued a stark warning about the crisis of creative effectiveness. ”We have destroyed – by this orgy of short-termism – what was once the most powerful weapon in the effectiveness armoury – creativity.” Obviously, there was never really a choice between short and long term or performance and brand: it was always only a question of balance.
Field in partnership with James Hurman – whose “The Effectiveness Code” informs the creation of the WARC Competitiveness Awards – have offered a strategic framework for marketing practitioners to gauge and align best practices to a “Creative Effectiveness Ladder.”
The free download of their paper is probably one of the most valuable clicks you will ever make. If you can muster the patience to devote a couple of hours to truly digest the 122 pages and some of its counterintuitive findings, you will have made a smart investment to sustainable future success.
It will arm you with a step-by-step logic into improving your teams’ work: setting a sound strategy, choosing meaningful tactics, and evaluating your creative routes based on commercially relevant effectiveness.
A clear plan – even if it takes years
I had the privilege of being a jury member for the „Sustained Growth“ category – one of six – in this year’s awards. If advertising was karate, this category should be the black belt. If you made the shortlist, it means you have risen above the muck of mediocre, unfocused, self-important advertising and set a shining example for the entire industry.
The winners are unique and united in two ways as our jury chair Brent Smart pointed out. They share both “commitment and cohesion”. All the winners have committed to a long-term strategy. Not just a bunch of tactics executed in sequence, but rather a thoughtful articulation of a clear idea of a brand’s place in the consumers’ world and a clear plan on how to get there, even if it takes years.
The cases are cohesive in that they employ a variety of tactics in service of the strategy. Our Grand Prix winner Aldi in the UK for example used very different tactics for different aspects of the strategy: their iconic “like brands” campaign to introduce the idea of comparability; their “provenance” campaign to compete on quality and the notorious “Kevin the Carrot” to benefit from shoppers Christmas upgrading habits.
Again: congrats to all winners. They are truly setting examples that are inspirational and ultimately transformative.
This article was first published in slightly different version with Adweek on 07/31/2021.