"As far as I know," David Ogilvy said, "I’m the only creative genius who started his career in research."

The ARF David Ogilvy Awards celebrate the extraordinary and creative use of research in powering effective advertising. Following the ceremony on Wednesday night in NYC, the 17 case studies are now live for Warc subscribers to browse here. These winners have proved a keen understanding of the part research plays in crafting ideas that resonate with people. If you’re pressed for time, we recommend that you start with these.

Grand Prix: Nestle Lean Cuisine - #WeighThis

Grand Ogilvy and Social Gold winner, Nestlé Lean Cuisine, used a moving social campaign to connect with American women emotionally and reverse years of sales declines. Following five years of continuous sales decline it understood the need to reposition its message and reassert the brand.

It used social segmentation and brand perception analysis to learn that Lean Cuisine conversations were functional and lacked emotional relevance. The #WeighThis campaign was created to challenge a society that continues to judge women by appearance and to prove to key female consumers that Lean Cuisine was relevant to their lives.

The centre of the campaign was a powerful video of real women weighing their life accomplishments - becoming a parent, making Dean's List as a single mother, and traveling the world - in lieu of their bodies. #WeighThis was crucial to the brand seeing its first sales increase in six years despite a decline in media spend year-over-year. The campaign's main video also contributed to an impressive 33% increase in positive brand perception.

Kingsford Charcoal: United we grill

Kingsford Charcoal took gold in the cross-platform category, by reinforcing the idea of togetherness to key consumer groups. The brand, through establishing this association, aligned itself with the social benefits of gathering with friends and family. Kingsford Charcoal recognised that traditional gatherings have been threatened by the cultural shift of what constitutes 'social time' and this was impacting businesses reliant on people coming together around a grill.

Identifying two key groups – the Everyday Griller and Hispanic consumers – Kingsford created a campaign that highlighted how grilling is the ultimate social get-together. This message was communicated through TV spots, targeted banners, social media and a revamped website where grillers could find new tips and recipes.

The campaign increased dollar sales per buyer by 6% and product trips per buyer by 4%, as well as growing the dollar share by 1.5%.

Ontario Women's Directorate: #WhoWillYouHelp

The women's charity Ontario Women's Directorate received the gold for creative effectiveness with its campaign to develop and broadcast an action plan to stop sexual violence by talking to the bystander.

The majority of Canadians believe sexual assault and harassment of any kind is unacceptable, however a survey showed that only 37% of respondents would take action when witnessing violence or harassment. A typical campaign that focused on victim or perpetrator would not speak to the inert majority who could help; therefore, the OWD undertook research on cultural norms and behavioural motivation surrounding the issue.

The statistics showed how many assaults go unreported (6%) this lack of action is, in many cases, caused by bystander confusion that stops witnesses from taking action.

To educate the public on a so-called 'grey area,' the campaign leveraged peer influence with the hashtag, #WhoWillYouHelp, alongside a TV ad in which a perpetrator thanked the viewer for not getting involved. Campaign tracking revealed that 71% of respondents strongly agreed that people should speak out more about sexual harassment and violence against women compared to 63% pre-campaign.

Truth: "Finish It"

Truth, an American anti-smoking non-profit, aimed marketing efforts at the non-smokers –91% of Americans– in a campaign, FinishIt, for Gen Z to become 'the generation that ends smoking', which won the gold award for new audiences.

Famous for having exposed many lies of Big Tobacco, truth continues its campaign against smoking, having learned, from primary research, that Gen Z youth don't consider smoking to be a big problem. The challenge was to overcome complacency, but through a new strategy that addressed the cultural shift from generations X to Z, which was achieved through pre-campaign market testing to develop strategy, and post-campaign evaluation to measure performance.

The research shone a light on the target audience's values and lifestyles, using both quantitative segmentation and qualitative methods; the campaign spoke to non-smokers, creating a broad social movement. The campaign effectively showcased why smoking is socially and culturally out of step with youth aspirations. The campaign achieved a decrease in teen smoking rates from 9.6% to 8%, a reduction of 400,000 youths; achieving also behavioural and attitudinal impact, with continuous tracking showing sustained engagement.

Warner Bros.: PAN theatrical release

Winners in the big data category, Warner Brothers Home Entertainment developed a streamlined process in order to take advantage of the big data available and to improve business results during the release of Pan.

The team behind Pan recognised that different storylines and talent would appeal to teens and parents; it also needed to ensure their marketing campaign could be data driven to achieve maximum ROI. During the campaign of TV and OOH advertising, Warner Bros used data to identify that particular messages were resonating well with certain groups and to discover more about these groups. A streamlined process of aligning data sources and a standard ETL of the appropriate data streams were put in place to deliver the right answers and facilitate fast implementation. By selecting the most optimal programmatic segments and targeting TV networks and audiences, Pan achieved a forecasted improvement of 26% over business as usual.

Opera Mediaworks and comScore: The impact of native mobile video advertising on key brand metrics

Opera Mediaworks and comScore undertook a native video ad effectiveness study in order to provide key best practices for native mobile video, which won them gold in the Mobile category.

Opera Mediaworks and comScore analysed mobile campaigns from brands such as Carl's Jr., HISTORY, Adidas, Lenovo and more, discovering that campaigns yielded favourable results when driving consumer conversion and action. They concluded that creative best practices for native mobile video include: hook users in first 2-3 seconds, use quick cuts and close-ups, use oversized text, use call to actions and make sound secondary. The study showed how brands and agencies find meaningful results from mobile-first, purpose-built video ad creative.

Merck: "Flying ragweed" and "green fields"

Finally, taking Gold for Innovation, the American allergy medication, GRASTEK and RAGWITEK launched a DTC campaign, breaking through the clutter of the OTC-dominated allergy market by activating an engaged patient community.

The media spend for the allergy category is close to $200 million, and consumers know and trust big brands advertised on TV, but few consumers have regular conversations with their physician about allergies, and there is virtually no awareness of allergy immunotherapy as a treatment option. In order to differentiate, the campaign established a Market Research Online Community, three years prior to launch, which delivered qualitative and quantitative insights through a user-friendly social platform.

The campaign took an unconventional approach of forgoing "lifestyle" imagery (there are no people in the ad), instead focusing on educating consumers on the benefits of immunotherapy as a viable alternative, stating "treat the allergy, not the symptoms."

Results included increased brand awareness, increased intent to have a conversation with the doctor about allergies (vs control) and intent to ask for the product, as measured by tracking studies.

As always Warc subscribers can view the full case studies here.