LONDON: Choosing the most appropriate media channels is no longer the "second step" in planning a campaign but ranks alongside the creative idea, a new Warc report suggests.

The Connection Strategy Casebook, an analysis of the winning entries to last year's inaugural Warc Prize for Connection Strategy, highlights how media thinking has become integral to the success of the creative idea in the most effective campaigns.

"The lines between creative and media, along with data and technology are more blurred than ever before," noted Karl Weaver, Chief Growth Officer, Dentsu Aegis Network UK & Ireland and one of the Prize judges.

The Grand Prix-winning entry from Coca-Cola – #colouryoursummer – exemplifies this trend as it was built around an insight into how packaging could be used to reflect teens' desire for self-expression.

A small, affordable 250ml can was made available during the summer months in a limited edition range which included the iconic red plus five new vibrant colours. The cans also worked as passcodes to unlock digital content, games and branded experiences.

While high-budget campaigns from major brands like Coca-Cola overindexed in the Prize shortlist, more than half came from brands with budgets below $1m.

For example, creative use of social media delivered success for EXITDeutschland, an organisation fighting against extremism.

This succeeded in turning an annual neo-Nazi march through a small German town into an involuntary charity walk where the participating extremists raised money to help their own members escape the movement.

The study also noted that media creativity can require an understanding of the way data and new technology can be combined with existing approaches. Online fashion store demonstrated how it targeted Christmas shoppers with a combination of Shazam technology, social media and geo-targeted creative to achieve a 23% year-on-year increase in sales.

Other takeaways from the report – a summary can be downloaded here – include the use of partners to deliver reach and credibility, the growing sophistication of communications architecture and the optimisation opportunities afforded by real-time data.

Data sourced from Warc