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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 charities the Romanian Ornithological Society and Natura 2000 used a YouTube video and PR to raise awareness of Romanian hunting laws and get the law changed to protect birds.

Case Study

This case study explains how S7 Airlines, the Russian airline, used a video published on social media to increase international awareness of its brand and grow ticket sales.

Case Study

This case study shows how Ikea, a furniture brand, successfully launched its new catalogue by filming a renowned German literary critic reviewing it.

Case Study

This case study explains how PRODISS, a French union for people working in entertainment industries, used an event and social media campaign that built solidarity to encourage people to return to concerts after a terrorist attack in Paris.

Case Study

This case study explains how Sakker El Dekkene (Stop the Shop), a Lebanese NGO, used a stunt to encourage people to report corruption.
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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 event report identifies key learnings from Ariel, the P&G-owned detergent, Share the Load campaign, with the creative and strategic team that put the work together.


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.


This article looks at how neuromarketing techniques are particularly suited to public service advertising campaigns which have to engage disinterested consumers on an emotional basis and in a memorable way within restricted budgets.


This article looks at the use of stories in advertising and their value in building brands and driving sales.


This article explores the concept of age, specifically in terms of 16-19 year olds and those over 65, in relation to branding, personal attitudes and perceptions, and responses to music.
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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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