LONDON: The Creative Effectiveness Lions have become one of the most closely watched categories at the Cannes Lions festival, attracting an ever greater number of entries and signposting trends to follow for advertisers wanting to have an impact on business, a WARC event heard.

WARC’s 2017 Cannes Analysis event drew out the learnings from the awards, the first of which is that  Creative Effectiveness is growing: 2017’s awards saw a 59% increase in entries to the category from the year before. (For more, read: Seven lessons from WARC’s 2017 Cannes Analysis).

“Creative Effectiveness is about impact”, Creative Effectiveness jury president, Jonathan Mildenhall told WARC. “Is the idea impacting the brand's business? Is the idea impacting the culture?”

The idea of impact led to a greater regard for campaigns with small media budgets. This year, 42% of the shortlisted campaigns had a budget under $500k. As a result, the cost-efficiency of social and online video saw both those channels featuring in 82% of the shortlisted entries, with PR used in over half of entries to achieve an outsized impact.

Meanwhile, emotion continues to feature in winning campaigns, as 71% of the shortlist employed this creative strategy. Speaking at the event, Unruly’s Ian Forrester observed that marketers “need to create positive emotional responses to do with your brand. So that when people see your brand in stores, they remember that positive emotion."

“It’s not enough to declare a purpose, it has to have an impact too,” added Heather Andrew, CEO, Neuro-Insight. The way to do that is through emotion, which helps encode memory. If the brand does not create a memory with an ad, she said, “it’ll just be entertainment”.

Elsewhere, the trend of a CSR or sustainability-led creative strategy continued. Nearly half (47%) of the shortlist used this approach this year. While judges noted the importance of social issues, their criteria for impact remained strict.

“All of the [campaigns] we recognised actually changed laws in the markets they ran in. They had a social objective at their heart, and actually changed society for the better,” Mildenhall observed.

Yet there are different definitions of purpose that can be useful. Jane Blomfield, head of sales and marketing at Kantar Millward Brown, noted its use as a differentiator from rivals, as with the e-commerce brand Amazon.

“Amazon absolutely has a purpose,” Blomfield stated . “Much as people love to hate it, it’s improved the lives of people who use it. It’s super fast and reliable. That’s their purpose. It’s not a grand societal issue or a cause.”

Data sourced from WARC