Growth, measurement, sustainability and cultural relevance were the key talking points driving the creative effectiveness conversation at this year’s Cannes Lions. From stage talks to the Lion-winning work, creative effectiveness – one of six core themes explored at the Festival – was a major theme across the festival.

Evidence of a correlation between creatively excellent and effective Lion-winning work is growing. Perhaps that’s why entries into the Creative Effectiveness Lions award skyrocketed by 80% in 2022.

“The strong uptick in the number of compelling entries is a great testament about how marketers are increasingly understanding the investment of the Creative Effectiveness Lions and their value in driving long-term brand building,” noted the category’s jury president Raja Rajamannar, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer for Mastercard.

Creativity proved its value by supporting business growth as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. The world and its economies face new challenges, from a cost-of-living crisis to an anticipated global economic slowdown; advertising effectiveness is more necessary than ever.

WARC joined forces with Cannes Lions for a mini festival of effectiveness inside the Palais, featuring the world’s leading effectiveness experts and the brands making the work. Talks unpicked topics from maximising the impact of advertising by understanding attention, to a guide on building mental networks for demand generation, to the future of strategy.

Impact at every touchpoint

The Creative Effectiveness Lions honour creative work that demonstrates hard results over the long term, including how the work drove tangible business effects, whether it was instrumental to cultural change or if it was integral in the achievement of brand purpose.

This year’s Grand Prix winner, ‘Contract for Change’ by FCB Chicago for Michelob Ultra, was selected, according to juror Karna Crawford, Head of US Marketing at Ford because “it made a change that could impact the marketplace, others in their category, the farmers, and also the AB InBev business.

“When you bring all those things together, you’re talking about creative effectiveness at a much more epic scale.”

Creative Effectiveness Lions jury president, Raja Rajamannar added that the winning campaign “was not only strong on creativity and effectiveness, it went above and beyond – it [was] disruptive, game-changing and ha[d] impact lasting into the future. It’s a powerful example of how marketing should play an effective role in driving the business, build the brand and play a key role in the entire business value chain.”

Effectiveness in Creative B2B

The Creative B2B Lions award which launched this year also highlighted creative effectiveness in the business-to-business space. In fact, two big Creative Effectiveness Lions winners this year – the Grand Prix, AB InBev’s ‘Contract for Change’ and Silver Lion-winning work ‘The Island’ by Boys + Girls Dublin for Three – were B2B creative examples.

Stand-out B2B work is predicted to grow in the near-future as it is a critical source of growing business. LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky noted on the Cannes Lions stage that “even in our current financial markets, the uncertainty we have today, these B2B businesses have a market cap that is greater than Nike, Coca-Cola, Adidas and GM combined.

“For the advertising industry these new B2B categories – and the businesses like them – that’s where the growth is going to come from.”

Winning Creative B2B Lions entries included hyper-creative, hyper-targeting from FCB New York for Spotify with ‘A Song for Every CMO’, which took home a Gold Lion, while the Grand Prix went to ‘Speaking in Color’ from paint and coating manufacturer, Sherwin-Williams Coil Coatings, by Wunderman Thompson Minneapolis.

Creative Effectiveness is one of six key Cannes Lions themes, distilled in the Cannes Lions Official Wrap-Up Report.