This morning saw the official launch of Ad Works 21 - the book of cases from the IPA's 2012 Effectiveness Awards (which is published by Warc).
The launch was marked with a breakfast session featuring Marie Oldham, Chief Strategy Officer at MPG Media Contacts and Convenor of Judges for the awards, and David Golding, Founding Partner of Adam & Eve DDB, who talked through the Grand Prix-winning case study for John Lewis.
It's worth reading the John Lewis case, which used highly emotional TV-led advertising and led directly to category-beating sales growth. This morning, Golding emphasised the scale of the challenge (the brand previously had low emotional connection with customers and was seen as 'beige'), and the importance of a strong client prepared to challenge the company's orthodoxy and rethink the meaning of its longstanding 'Never Knowingly Undersold' positioning.
Some key points to take away from the event:
1. The impact of the financial crisis
Oldham suggested that a theme in several cases was the impact of economic slowdown and change in attitude among consumers. There has been a resurgence in interest in corporate values, and a focus on themes such as friends, family and fairness. She pointed to the Velvet case that highlighted a set of values for the brand.
This was echoed by Golding, who said one of the aims of John Lewis' ads was to instil the "confidence of permanence", highlighting the brand's long and trusted heritage. "Permanence delivers the emotional response," he said.
(Interestingly, this idea chimes nicely with one of the themes in our Toolkit 2013 report, which highlights the importance of 'engaging the enraged'.)
2. TV and digital working together
Oldham suggested that the 2012 cases showed how TV and digital channels were finally working together effectively. She highlighted two models:
- Start with TV to broadcast the idea, then amplify the 'buzz' through digital channels. Example: Walkers 'Do us a flavour'.
- Nurture an idea online, refine it, then push back into TV. Example: Singapore Health Promotion Board, 'I quit'.
This, she added, was a recognition that TV can have one of several roles. Martin Weigel of Weiden & Kennedy has highlighted four: Signpost (send people elsewhere); Ignition (spark interest in something), Fuel (build interest in content seen elsewhere), Explainer (elaboration on what a brand is or does).
Oldham also pointed to a case study from the Metropolitan Police, which used video, but employed technology, particularly Facebook, to dig deeper into a tricky target market (potential youth gang members) and get them involved in creating the content.
John Lewis is clearly a TV-led success story, though Golding acknowledged that social media had helped spread news of the ad and encouraged more people to watch.
3. Many forms of measurement
Econometric modelling features widely in IPA cases - 50% of entries used econometric models in 2012. But as Oldham pointed out, only 50% of the winners used econometrics. They are not necessarily crucial to success.
She highlighted the growing range of measures available to brands: search results, for example, as a sign of a connection with consumers; or sharing data as a measure on consumer involvement.
Golding also highlighted a couple of interesting measures he used in the John Lewis case, some of them retail-specific. He was able, for example, to list the high-end brands that are now stocked in the stores due to the advertising. He showed that the contribution of the company's suppliers to its advertising costs (in return for placement within the ads) had more than doubled since 2009/10. And because John Lewis works on a partnership model and shares profits among its staff, the agency has been able to link the advertising to profits to profit-share-per-employee. It was, he argued, the first IPA case to link advertising directly to the employees' take-home pay.