Volume 15 No. 4: The Creative Battle: Awards vs. Results

75% of marketers struggle to link creative activities to commercial returns. 80% find it difficult to understand how their creative is actually performing. And 79% say they have inadequate training to connect creative impact and business outcomes. 

It's a creative effectiveness crisis in the making. 


What does effective creative really look like?     

Each week, we break down another marketing concept so you can skip the hype and get directly to what works. 

Creative effectiveness has been a concern for years now. In 2019, the IPA released their Crisis of Creative Effectiveness Report, in which they found creatively awarded campaigns are less effective than ever. In fact, they’re no more effective than campaigns that don’t receive awards.  

System1, the ad tracking company, backs this up for the Cannes Lions Festival. In 2022, they analyzed how well the ads that won at Cannes build brands and found the distribution of bad to good ads is roughly the same for Lion-winning campaigns as it is for System1’s broad set of all advertising.  

So if awards aren’t an indication of effective creative, what is? How should marketers judge great creative work? 

Start by defining creative effectiveness. The first step to ensure effectiveness is to understand what 'effective' means for your business. For many, this will mean a blend of sales and brand results but the exact balance of those two goals will vary depending on your growth stage, category, and unique objectives.

Use the SPARK framework. This framework ensures your creative strategy stays rooted in your unique brand identity and audience. Evaluate creative concepts based on the following five criteria: 

  1. Surprise: Does the work offer something new and exciting? 
  2. Provoke: Does it drive action? 
  3. Align: Does it adhere to the brief? 
  4. Repeatable: Can it be used in fresh new ways? 
  5. Kindle: Does it elicit an emotional response?

Pretest creative before launching your campaign. At the end of the day, your customers are the ones whose opinions matter most. So... don't let your creative launch in-market without pretesting creative concepts with your target audience. Learn about what resonates with their hearts and minds. And craft your final creative to account for their feedback. This process saves you time, money, and ensures you get the message right in-market.

Create a plan for measuring success. The importance of accurate measurement cannot be overstated. In fact, we may not be experiencing a "crisis of creative effectiveness," but rather a "crisis of measuring creative effectiveness.” Once your campaign is live, track metrics based on your original KPIs to evaluate performance. We always recommend tracking multiple data points from various sources to understand your creative’s impact across the entire buyer’s journey.

Key Takeaway: Measuring creative effectiveness is crucial for proving marketing’s value to the business. Because great creative absolutely should translate to commercial returns. However, this requires actively defining what “effective” creative looks like for your brand, crafting creative to resonate with your audience, and developing a clear plan for tracking creative’s impact. 


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