UPDATED: Campaigns struggle to mix awards with ROI

14 July 2010

NEW YORK: Many ad campaigns that recently received major awards have delivered tangible results, but some struggled to combine this industry recognition with improvements to the bottom line.

Research from Leo Burnett found an 86% correlation between platforms that took prizes at events like the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival and improvements in key brand metrics.

This compared with a figure of 78% reported in 1997, the first year the company conducted this kind of analysis.

"Before we were in the creative business. Now we're in the business of creativity," said Mark Tutssel, Leo Burnett's global chief creative officer and a Cannes judge.

In July 2009, Crispin Porter & Bogusky was honoured with the Titanium Grand Prix at Cannes for Best Buy's Twelpforce, which employs Twitter as a customer service tool.

The Twelpforce - which was also supported by TV spots - has 2,700 employees taking part and 27,000 followers at present, and is credited with boosting laptop sales by over 40% above Best Buy's targets.

"There was a lot of early momentum and adoption," said John Bernier, social and emerging media manager at Best Buy.

"People who participated in Twelpforce said they wanted to lead the social media effort at their stores."

Gatorade, the sports drink, carried off the Promo and PR Grand Prix at Cannes 2010 for 'Replay', which tracked down the members of two high-school football teams 20 years after a match that ended in a tie.

"This is about everyday athleticism," said Lauren Fritts, Gatorade's manager, emerging content.

"Even if you haven't played sports since high school, we want you to know Gatorade understands that and is relevant to you."

Alongside attracting 15,000 fans to the rematch, this initiative formed the basis of an online documentary series and secured free coverage from mainstream channels like CNN and Fox Sports Net.

Indeed, Fox Sports Net broadcast the first iteration to 90 million homes, and the third cycle is currently underway, with 2,000 teams applying.

"As a marketer, when someone takes your idea as their own you know it's a success," Fritts said.

Despite this, Gatorade's sales for the year to January 24 declined by 8.5% nationwide, per Mintel, indicating that increased exposure does not always generate demand.

Elsewhere, Procter & Gamble picked up the Film Grand Prix at Cannes 2010 for Old Spice's "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" execution from Wieden & Kennedy, which has become a major viral hit.

Despite reports to the contrary, Nielsen data shows that sales of the Old Spice Body Wash range as a whole rose by 55% over the last three months, and by 107% in the last month alone.

Nike took plaudits at Cannes for its Chalkbot in 2009, which painted messages on the route taken by competitors in the 2009 Tour de France to promote Lance Armstrong's Livestrong Foundation.

In this period, Nike's Livestrong Collection saw purchases jump 46%, but although an extra $4m went to the charity as a consequence, Armstrong's return to the sport may have contributed to this trend.

"Was the success because of the campaign or Lance's return to the tour? It's hard to know," said Doug Ulman, the Livestrong Foundation's ceo.

Volkswagen Sweden's 'The Fun Theory', from DDB Stockholm, which claimed the Cyber Grand Prix at Cannes 2010, is more clearly associated with a measurable return on investment in revenue terms.

An ad which turned a subway stairwell into a keyboard to encourage people to take the stairs has logged 19 million views on You Tube since its October release, and coincided with a 58% uptick in deliveries.

Data sourced from Brandweek; additional content by Warc staff