The IPA Effectiveness Awards are live on – subscribers can browse all 70 of them here. These rigorous awards recognise advertising campaigns that demonstrate clear proof of their effectiveness. Fosters, the beer brand, took the Grand Prix award while Specsavers, Transport for London and The British Heart Foundation were among the brands awarded Gold.

I’ve dug a little deeper into the 70 case studies to showcase several campaigns that stood out - perhaps for their innovative use of media, or for successfully overcoming difficult marketing challenges.

ONLY: Our basket is full: how emotional storytelling in the digital space drove commercial success

After years of growth ONLY, the Danish fashion brand, had, well, fallen out of fashion. Its prices were being undercut and its products were failing to excite. To increase sales and desirability ONLY needed to attract the attention of the ‘metropolitan fashionistas’. The Liberation, a highly engaging interactive digital ‘catalogue’, became a storytelling hub, consisting of specially-shot films that showcased ONLY fashion. To generate buzz, ONLY used blogger outreach across nine European markets. Catching the imagination of fashion influencers proved profitable. ONLY’s sales decline reversed and online and physical sales increased. Overall, during The Liberation, ONLY went from decline to 14.3% growth.

McCain Ready Baked Jackets: Using the power of insight to solve the paradox of a product that seemed too good to be true

This case study describes how McCain, the frozen food brand, launched a variant without cannibalising its existing portfolio. McCain created an oven backed jacket potato which was ready in just five minutes hence meeting an important consumer need - delivering convenience without compromising taste. The goal was to attract new customers to the frozen food aisle to avoid cannibalising existing buyers. A strategically integrated campaign harnessing paid, owned and earned media conveyed the key product attributes: smell, taste and fluffy texture. The brand also experimented with sensory marketing: the smell of freshly baked potatoes was omitted by a spray mechanism when consumers passed bespoke bus stops across the UK. Far from cannibalising existing buyers, 26.8% of the first Jackets purchasers were completely new to frozen potato products.

easyJet: How easyJet grew its brand by cutting costs

As the title suggests, this case study explains how, over the course of three years, easyJet, the airline, achieved growth in brand and sales performance despite a reduction in marketing investment. Brand building activity was seen as key to accelerating growth as was a focus on three new clearly defined higher spending target audiences: affluent families, empty nesters and business travellers. The ‘Europe by easyJet’ campaign focussed on the joy of travel. TV was important to convey the refreshed brand image across key European markets. An eCRM campaign proved a vital and cost-efficient tool. This was reinforced by the launch of easyJet’s award winning mobile app. As a result, annual passenger numbers for easyJet increased by 20% and its share of the European flight market grew.

Pedigree: From purebred winners to rescue dog dinners

Pedigree, the dog food brand, showcased its expertise and nutritional credibility by partnering with The Association of Dogs and Cats Homes. Focusing on the welfare of dogs, the ‘Feeding Brighter Futures’ campaign integrated stories, channels and activities which followed various real rescue dogs and their human supporters in ‘real time’. Each dog’s recovery was filmed in real time over a period of nine weeks. This advocacy strategy built brand equity and gave Pedigree a new way to engage with consumers and trade. The strategy drove sales across the entire Pedigree portfolio and built brand equity.

Paddy Power: Success on a shoestring. Right Behind Gay Footballers

Paddy Power, the UK bookmakers, shows how to create maximum impact on a tiny budget. It used an influencer strategy to highlight the issue of homophobia in football. Aligning with Stonewall, the gay rights charity, Paddy Power sent rainbow coloured laces to every professional football player in Britain, and asked them to wear them, to show they were “Right Behind Gay Footballers”. Advertising, PR, digital and social media were used to gain wider public support. The campaign generated enormous earned PR - over 400 media stories in one week – and social engagement levels rose by 74% in 5 days. Footballers pledged their support as did a host of celebrities. 

CHEER IT UP! How Cuprinol added colour and value to the garden woodcare category

Not the sexiest of categories but I highlight this paper as this campaign illustrates how Cuprinol, AkzoNobel’s wood preserver brand, overcame an age-old marketing challenge – how to attract a new audience without alienating existing customers. Cuprinol wanted to attract more women to its brand while retaining its predominantly male customer-base. A repositioning strategy shifted the emphasis from the rational ‘wood protection’ to a the more emotional ‘garden enhancement’ by highlighting how the brand can help make a garden more colourful and inviting. The repositioning appealed to both a male and female audience: brand awareness rose, particularly amongst the female target, and sales increased and the average household bought 24% more Cuprinol, and they were buying it at a higher price point.

Attracting a new generation of first direct customers

How does a financial services brand attract a younger target audience? first direct’s growth had stalled and its customer base was ageing. To appeal to the 25-34 year old target, the brand adopted a strategy based around ‘deviation’ which positioned first direct as the ‘unexpected bank’. Breaking with traditional financial services advertising, teaser ads featured no offers, services or staff. Instead quirky humour was order of the day with a series of unusual creatures, such as beatboxing birds, which encouraged consumers to expect the unexpected. Awareness levels increased as did new customers. first direct’s share of current accounts grew 25% and the volume of under-35s grew by 107% - both within six months.

Sainsbury’s: Christmas in a Day – The real story of Christmas

Sainsbury’s the UK supermarket, focussed on emotive user-generated storytelling to grow its business during Christmas 2013. Sainsbury’s wanted to showcase how Britons really celebrate Christmas and invited the public to film their Christmas and share it on YouTube. The launch was a 3.5 minute TV trailer. Social media platforms were used to fuel further consumer engagement. The campaign delivered 5.2% like for like growth at a time when all main competitors stalled or declined.