Jason Heller, Partner/Global Lead Digital Marketing Operations & Technology at McKinsey, discussed this topic at the 2017 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.
And he outlined research conducted by McKinsey – including analysis of Cannes Lions winners covering a 16-year period, a survey of executives and a "diagnostic" covering organisational business practices – that delivered some striking findings.
One distinguishing trait among most businesses receiving a high "Award Creativity Score" (ACS), a group that typically outperforms their rivals in terms of financial results and innovation, involves in-house perceptions of marketing.
"Seventy percent view marketing as an investment versus an expense – and that's a huge difference between high ACS and low ACS companies," said Heller. (For more details, read WARC's exclusive report: Four best practices of truly creative companies.)
He further suggested that the trailblazers identified in McKinsey's investigation had a stronger financial commitment to marketing.
"When we look at, generally, the investment in marketing as a percentage of total revenue, it is significantly higher in higher ACS performing companies versus lower ACS performing companies," Heller said.
"There's also greater investment in things like data analytics … This isn't about the science of marketing or the art of marketing. This is about the science of marketing and the art of marketing."
Elaborating on this theme, he explained that more high-performing creative firms will maintain their investment in marketing even when the economic climate becomes challenging.
"Twenty-five percent of the time, companies with higher ACS scores will protect their marketing spend, even in down cycles. That's critically important here," Heller said.
Another characteristic evinced by a meaningful number of leading enterprises in the study involved "hardwiring creativity and innovation in daily practices", he said.
While this idea may be self-evident in theory, Heller insisted that achieving it in practice is extremely difficult. For many firms with impressive ACS ratings, the process starts in the C-Suite.
"Thirty percent of these companies have board of directors' discussions around creativity, and innovation, and investments in those areas. It's really important: This is at the absolute highest level of the organisation," he said.
Data sourced from WARC