The year’s most effective content strategies build audiences for the long term, feature tangible elements, and tap younger audiences’ desire for self-expression – here’s what you need to know.

The Effective Content Strategy Report 2019, drawn from jury discussions and metadata of the shortlisted and winning entries of the Effective Content Strategy category of this year’s WARC Awards, identifies three main content strategy themes that helped brands achieve business goals.

Commenting on the awards, chair of judges and Global CMI Director, Content Centre of Excellence at Unilever, Namita Mediratta said, “as advertising moves towards a value-exchange model from a predominantly interruption-driven mindset, the role of content (as distinct from advertising) becomes much more important. There is a crying need for content that people want to engage with, participate in and contribute to.”

Content needs to build audiences in the long term

In order to attract and maintain audience attention, content needs to aim for the long-term.

“Content should be seen as a long-term investment for brands… [it’s] a continuous process of building sustained attention for your brand. It’s not about reaching an audience, but about building one,” noted Cécile Angrand, Global Brand Director, Whiskas and Diana Lopes, Strategy Director, AMV BBDO.

Some of the most effective examples were the twice WARC Award-winning content campaigns from Whiskas; Connect, a Lebanese telco; and Orange in Tunisia. In each case, the long-term commitment to the strategy found more resonance among audiences and has paid dividends for the brand.

Young audiences use branded content for self-expression

When done right, young audiences will make time for content. “The intrinsic value of a product is less about what it says on the box and more about what it empowers you to say about yourself,” say Thas Naseemuddeen, Chief Executive Officer and Riley Strand, Senior Strategist of independent creative agency Omelet.

“Younger audiences are growing and shaping perspectives; they’re looking for friends, for romance, for purpose. They do that by expressing themselves through creation and communication, and brands can enable or improve their ability to do that.”

Key examples include a Nescafé campaign that spoke to university students in Egypt, and a campaign from Dunelm, the UK homeware company, which drove sales and brand awareness by creating an ad-funded TV show that used a dating show format.

Real-world components help make content distinctive

Content created around tangible – for instance, Panini Cards for Coca-Cola Egypt, Coffee Corners for Nescafé Dolce Gusto in MENA or Grand Prix-winning Trash Isles for Plastic Oceans International – can bring to life a content strategy.

“Content can play a key role in making […] experiences more meaningful. However, brands need to be careful not to make digital their main or only piece of content strategy. ‘Things’ can also be an incredibly valuable way to connect brands with people, having the advantage of seamlessly becoming a part of their conversation,” said Iuren Ramiro, Planning Manager, Santa Clara, and a member of the jury.

A sample of the Effective Content Strategy Report, Lessons from the 2019 WARC Awards, can be downloaded here.

The report in full is available to WARC subscribers on and includes in-depth chapter analysis with views and opinions from the judges; what the trends mean from advertisers, agencies and media owners; data analysis and summaries – objectives, insights, strategies and results – of the winning case studies.

The 2020 WARC Awards are now open for submissions. Free to enter, there is a $40,000 prize fund for the winning papers. View here for more information.

Sourced from WARC