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Creative approaches

The creative approach taken by a brand is often critical to the success or failure of a campaign. The creative strategy needs to engage effectively with the target audience, and different approaches might be chosen depending on the make-up of a brand’s audience. Recent research has highlighted the importance of emotional appeals in brand-building, with more rational appeals focused on ‘activation’ work designed to lift sales in the short term.

Key Reading

Important papers from across the Warc database

James Hurman discusses the changing nature of creativity. He argues that creativity is becoming embedded throughout organisations rather than just in communications. Campaigns mentioned in the article include 'Guilt Trips', a product innovation that boosted business at transport provider V/Line.
Binet and Carter on why planners should pay more attention to music choice in TV ads.
An analysis on whether the use of celebrity in ads is impactful and persuasive.
Les Binet and Sarah Carter argue that light-heartedness helps creative ideas to surface.
Five tips for better storytelling in advertising.

Case Study

This case study describes how Mars, the confectionery and food manufacturer, reversed declining growth and increased sales of its Maltesers snack through its portrayal of disability in its advertising.

Case Study

This case study explains how car company Volkswagen filmed a stunt and placed it on TV and social media to sell its Passat car model in Norway.

Case Study

This case study shows how Badger and Winters, an advertising agency, successfully initiated change globally towards the non-objectification of women in advertising, by directly targeting the industry with powerful campaign films.

Case Study

This case study shows how Deutsche Telekom, a telecommunications brand, used gaming to raise awareness towards dementia research in Germany.

Case Study

This case study explains how laundry brand Persil used a comparison between the time children and prisoners spend outside to build brand relevance and sales in a global, integrated campaign.

Case Study

This case study explains how Volkswagen increased sales of its Amarok truck model in Australia by challenging perceptions of the truck in an initially unbranded campaign targeting tradespeople.
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This article provides marketers with information and guidance about using humour to create buzz, emotional engagement and virality.


This article provides guidance and reading on brand characters, a non-celebrity animate being that can perform a multitude of roles from the perspective of brand or user.


This article provides marketers with information and guidance on harnessing grassroots activism and provoking people into taking action for change.


This article summarises the insights from a series of key papers addressing comparative advertising, where a product or service directly compares itself to a competitor to express that competitor’s inferiority.


This article provides guidance and best practice on using a celebrity to communicate a brand in the age of social media, where a move to engaged experts and stars-of-the-people can connect with consumers through digital in an effective and authentic way.
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  1. Article

    This report reveals the trends and lessons from the 2016 IPA Effectiveness Awards, analysing what differentiated the winners from the rest of the entries.

  2. Article

    This article covers how Lush Cosmetics uses its strong brand purpose to create relevant and engaging social media content – all while spending zero dollars on advertising.

  3. Article

    This article provides guidance and reading on storytelling strategies, or the fashioning of events into a meaningful, relatable story for customers to identify with and remember.

  4. Article

    This event report looks at the Grand-Prix-winning Cannes entry, Monty the Penguin from John Lewis and adam&eveDDB London, following a panel discussion on Warc's Cannes Creative Effectiveness analysis.

  5. Article

    This article offers best practice advice about how marketers can engage and impress the elusive Millennial demographic.

  6. Article

    This article discusses various approaches used by marketers to understand what consumers want.

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