While the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is a major draw for its seminars – see previous Warc blogposts covering Visa, Facebook and YouTube – most of the Festival's media coverage focuses on the Lions themselves, widely viewed as ad land's Oscars. One category we at Warc watch particularly closely is the Creative Effectiveness Lions, set up in 2011 to award campaigns that link long-term business results to their creative. This year's Grand Prix went to Axe, a Unilever-owned deodorant, for its 'Excite' campaign developed by BBH London. The jury was unanimous in its choice of winner, having sifted through well over 100 entries – which are now browsable for Warc subscribers.
In Cannes, I had the chance to sit down with jury member Lucy Jameson, Grey London's incoming chief strategy officer. While quick to praise the winner's creative, she emphasised that what tipped the balance in Axe's favour was its rigorous focus on effectiveness. In other words, the entry was close in style to the typical data-driven IPA Effectiveness Awards case study.
Axe also benefited from the strict formula to which jury members work: 50% of their marking is based on the campaign's effectiveness, 25% on its creativity and 25% on its strategy.
Naturally, awarding these kinds of case studies is fortuitous for UK-based contributors, many of whom have been entering the IPA awards for years. Indeed, both Creative Effectiveness Lions Grand Prix winners have been developed in Britain (Walkers, a snack brand, and AMV BBDO won in 2011 for 'Sandwich'). And there was only one non-Anglophone nation represented among the six Lions winners in 2012.
But Jameson also pointed out that the effectiveness message is spreading worldwide. Axe's Grand Prix winner had a global theme, with the campaign running in over 100 markets. And new multi-market effectiveness awards, including the Warc Prize, have also been established over the past couple of years.
This last point was echoed by Tim Broadbent, O&M's worldwide effectiveness director, who was in Cannes to launch The Ogilvy & Mather Guide to Effectiveness, a paper aimed at helping marketers to evaluate their campaign payback, and use these insights to write a winning effectiveness award entry. Broadbent was involved in the establishment of the Creative Effectiveness Lions in 2011, and served on the first awards jury. He saw the ultimate reason for the industry's increased focus on effectiveness as client-driven, something that can certainly be seen in the ever-increasing proportion of advertiser delegates at the Festival. He was also quick to emphasise how tough these Lions are to win.
Broadbent was careful not to suggest that creativity and effectiveness are oppositional forces; indeed, his new Ogilvy paper references Peter Field's 2010 IPA research showing that creatively-awarded campaigns are seven times more efficient than non-awarded ones. David Jones, CEO of Havas and Euro RSCG Worldwide, 2012's jury president, agreed, putting his argument in terms of media trends. "What we saw judging is that creativity and effectiveness do not sit at opposite ends of the spectrum," he told reporters following the announcement of the Grand Prix winner. "In today's world where you can't buy attention, brilliant creativity is the only thing that creates effectiveness."
So it seems that that effectiveness awards are likely to proliferate and prosper over the years to come. But how do you go about winning one? The Creative Effectiveness Lions jury members had a clear idea of where many entries were going wrong: failure to prove the commercial success of the campaign. Jameson's particular bugbear was a general over-reliance on social media metrics – which were often left unbenchmarked. Above all, bear in mind that a powerful creative idea alone really isn't enough to win.
But perhaps the best way of preparing your Creative Effectiveness entry for 2013 is to browse the entries yourself. You can find all you need on our dedicated awards page.