The latest IPA Effectiveness Awards ceremony was held in London in October 2022. We caught up with Ranjana Chourdry, VP Advertising and Social Media, Wakefern Food Corp, and one of the IPA judges, who talks about brand heritage and marketing through a crisis.

What was it about the Grand Prix winner that stood out?

It's a brand close to my heart, you can’t beat Cadbury. But the brand was struggling, and was losing touch with its core value. What’s more, there was fall-out from the takeover of a British company by an American conglomerate. A brand would normally respond to this with a rebrand, or a reinvention. But reinventing a 100 year old brand is one of the toughest things and probably one of the stupidest things you can do. So I thought the fact that Cadbury went back to basics was great.

They essentially did three things, number one, they reinforced product superiority. It's 100 years old. Very few brands have that heritage. The second thing they did well was reinforce brand positioning around celebrating generosity. And the third, which I would say, was the cherry on top, was the fact that they did corporate social responsibility. They danced across all of these areas seamlessly, and brought the three streams together.

Were there any other entries that you particularly championed in the judging sessions?

I was quite passionate about the ‘Taking on selfies’ Dove entry. I thought the brand did an absolutely brilliant job, because the needs remained the same – the need to recognise and be comfortable in your own skin and your own beauty. But the demon had changed. Previously it was mass media. Now the demon was your own selfie and social media. They pivoted by not just doing mass media, but by doing pull communication and leveraging influencer strategy to actually make it that much more credible and so much more compelling. I also thought Sick Kids had a clever strategy. They were championing bravery; it pulled on your heart way more than pity. 

What were the trends you noticed in the entries this year? 

I really noticed the power of positive thinking – celebrating the positive side of life.  Great examples included Sick Kids, Long Live local, Veg Power, Dominos and Cadbury, considering the COVID-19 context this was really inspiring to see. 

There were also lots of purpose driven entries, whether it was Waitrose, Barclays, Cadbury's, SickKids or Sandy Hook. Great not for profit and commercial examples. 

From a media perspective it was good to see more examples of digital and influencer marketing winning awards. 

We’ve identified four key themes from this year’s winners, do any of these resonate with you?

Generating new usage occasions was interesting. The way this was tackled was compelling. There’s a risk this could be a boring approach but advertisers and their agencies found unexpected twists. Baileys, found ways of expanding the usage occasion to incorporate moments of life rather than remaining so specialised. 

What do the entries tell us about marketing effectiveness?

These brands weren’t pulling back from advertising, even when there was demand and supply issues. Many of these brands were bravely spending to build brand presence and create brand emotion. It was great to see the power of marketing strategies that are effective in the long term. 

There was a huge range of budgets but still they were all building brand experiences with a multimedia approach. Tesco food love stories was a great example of engaging with user generated content. Domino's got people involved with their yodel based rallying cry to order a crowd pleasing pizza. It wasn't just a gimmick, it drove sales and re-invigorated the brand in a category that was challenged by new entrants. I thought it was a smart way of proving how marketing can be very effectively leveraged to make the brand relevant in culture.

What surprised you most about the entries?

The fact that the brands weren’t straying too far from their core. Lots of examples of communication rooted in the product. So take the examples of Baileys with their occasions based approach, or Aldi with the carrot as the product hero, or Cadburys with their focus on intrinsic product attributes and the glass and a half. It was also refreshing how seriously brands were taking their social responsibility.

What disappointed you most about the entries?

I would like to see more B2B cases. There were some interesting ones. But I wish they were more substantial. Cherries from Chile, PERGRAPHICA and Long Live Local were good but we need more work like this.  

What’s the one thing you learned from the entries that you will apply in future?

I'm in the retail business right now. And every day facing inflation and so much real anxiety. People have less in their pockets. So it was heartening to see that in the face of all that negativity, a positive rather than defensive approach can drive business outcomes. Consumers are seeking comfort. Positivity, whether it be donating food to local communities, or giving your customer the most awesome deals, that kind of approach really makes a difference to your brand's fortunes.

The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising established the IPA Effectiveness Awards competition in 1980. WARC subscribers can read all the case studies here, and the IPA Insights Report 2022 is available here