WARC Effective 100
The WARC Effective 100 is a ranking of the world’s most awarded campaigns and companies for effectiveness.
It tracks the results of effectiveness award shows around the world, and acts as a benchmark for excellence in effectiveness, allowing marketers to compare their performance with that of their peers.
The results of the WARC Effective 100 have been summarised in a report with the headline rankings and trends.
Learn more about the 2021 rankings, and see how the top campaigns, brands and agencies placed.
Top campaigns from the 2021 rankings
#1 DB Export: I’m Drinking It For You
Appealing to a wider audience through a humorous song and music video
2021 top creative agencies
FP7 McCann Dubai
Colenso BBDO Auckland
2021 top digital / specialist agencies
Tribal Worldwide Bogotá
2021 top media agencies
2021 agency networks
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The WARC Effective 100 is a ranking of the world’s most awarded campaigns and companies for effectiveness. It compiles the results of award shows that ran the year prior to its publication (e.g. the 2021 rankings reflect the results of award shows that ran in 2020). See note on the 2021 Rankings here.
The Effective 100 has run since 2014 (formerly the WARC 100) and sits alongside two other rankings: the WARC Creative 100 and WARC Media 100 (formerly the Gunn Report rankings), which have ranked creativity and media since 1999.
To compile the WARC Effective 100, we track different advertising competitions around the world – all of them require entrants to show the impact of a campaign. Campaigns (and the brands and agencies behind them) are awarded points based on the prizes they win in those competitions.
The WARC Effective 100 methodology was developed in consultation with Douglas West, Professor of Marketing at Kings College, London.
The show list for the 2021 rankings has been frozen from 2020, due to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In order of overall show weighting, following shows are included in this year’s rankings:
Global: Effies, Cannes Lions (creative effectiveness & creative strategy categories), IPA Effectiveness Awards, WARC Awards, Jay Chiat Awards, APG Creative Strategy Awards, AME Awards, ARF David Ogilvy Awards
APAC: Effie APAC (plus local market Effies), Tangrams (effectiveness categories), WARC Prize for Asian Strategy
Europe: EACA Euro Effies (plus local market Effies), Premios Eficacia (Portugal & Spain)
Middle East & Africa: Effie MENA (plus local market Effies), WARC Prize for MENA Strategy, Loeries (effectiveness categories)
LATAM: Effie LATAM (plus local market Effies)
North America: Effie North America (plus local market Effies)
How we select the shows
WARC tracks the following types of award for the WARC Effective 100:
- Effectiveness award: Entries are judged primarily on the impact of a campaign.
- Strategy award: Entries are judged on the strategic response to a client's business problem.
- General marketing excellence award: A significant proportion of the scoring is based on effectiveness.
Each year, the award shows tracked to compile the WARC Rankings are reviewed to ensure that they reflect the needs of the industry and fulfil the purpose of the Rankings. To determine the most prestigious and rigorous shows, we conduct the following global research:
- We survey senior planners and strategists, asking them to tell us the global and regional shows they regard as the most prestigious and rigorous.
- We speak to an Advisory Board made up of industry leaders from advertising agencies, media agencies, consultancies and brands, who provide their expert opinion and independent guidance to ensure the rankings remain current, relevant and service the needs to the marketing communications industry.
How we weight the shows
Based on this consultation with the industry, shows are selected and weighted between 1 and 5 - this is an assessment of how 'hard' the competition is to win, and how prestigious the award is.
To produce this weighting, WARC Rankings has developed a calculation that takes into account a number of factors, including:
a. Industry perception
It is widely held within the industry that some competitions are harder or more prestigious than others. To reflect this, WARC Rankings uses the results of the survey and advisory board consultation to feed into the competition weighting.
b. The level of 'potential' competition
In theory, competitions or categories that are open to a wider 'pool' of campaigns will be harder to win than competitions that limit the size of the pool. So, for example, a global competition will usually be harder to win than a single-market competition. Or a show that is open to all types of marketing activity will be harder to win than a show that is only open to, say, digital marketing campaigns.
To reflect this, WARC Rankings takes into account how much of the global advertising market each competition represents. It is able to do this using WARC's comprehensive adspend data resources, which include analysis by channel and by geography.
The exact calculation is proprietary to WARC Rankings and, to avoid prejudicing entries to future competitions, we cannot reveal the weightings assigned to competitions.
Assigning Award Points
Most of the awards schemes under consideration have a single Best in Show (or Grand Prix) winner per category, as well as a broader group of Gold, Silver and Bronze winners. We assign points on a range from 10-2 (see table at right).
For schemes that do not run a Gold/Silver/Bronze scheme, we have adapted this points scheme to reflect their structure.
Award schemes under consideration vary greatly in terms of size. In order not to over-reward campaigns that have won many awards at a single scheme over those winning awards in multiple schemes, we have capped the number of Award Points a single campaign can win at a single awards scheme at 10. Grand Prix wins are exempt from this cap.
Non-campaign awards in these competitions (for example, 'Agency of the Year') are not included.
Points are assigned to campaigns as follows:
Building the scores
For each competition in which a campaign wins, its Award Points are multiplied by the Competition Weighting to produce a score.
For example, if a campaign wins a Silver in a competition with a weighting of 3, it will score 12 (4 Award Points x 3 weighting).
Many campaigns win awards in multiple competitions. So, a campaign's final score in WARC Effective 100 is the sum of all the scores it has achieved in different competitions. Where the same campaign has been awarded at different competitions under different campaign titles, a generic campaign name has been used for all of these entries.
Ranking agencies and brands
Once the scores for campaigns have been calculated, it is possible to assign points to the organisations behind them – both on the client and agency side.
The scores that have been generated for every campaign in the database are assigned to both an agency and a brand. This information is based on publicly released data, such as the winners' lists published by awards organisers.
This allows WARC Rankings to build rankings of individual agencies, agency networks, agency holding companies, brands and advertisers.
These rankings reflect the points generated from all campaigns in the database, not just the top 100 campaigns in the WARC Effective 100.
As with campaign scores (see above), there is a cap of 10 Award Points (equivalent to two Grand Prix) that a brand or agency can win from a single campaign in a single competition.
In addition, the overall Award Points a single brand or agency can win from a single awards scheme (i.e. from all its winning entries in one competition) at 20. This is because a small number of competitions in the database award a very large number of prizes, making it possible for agencies or brands eligible for those competitions to pick up a lot of points from a single award scheme. This is unfair on agencies or brands ineligible to enter those competitions (for example, if the competition is in a local market and not open to entries from outside that market).
As with campaign scores, all Award Points are multiplied by the relevant Competition Weighting to produce the scores for agencies and brands.
Note: ownership structures of agencies and brands reflect the situation in January 2020; this may differ from the approach to ownership of individual award shows.
Agencies listed as 'contributing agencies' for a campaign in the database are awarded half the Award Points assigned to 'primary agencies' for the same campaign (i.e. 1 for Bronze, 2 for Silver, 3 for Gold, 5 for Grand Prix, with a points cap of 5 for a single campaign in any competition).
WARC Rankings has used the information released by awards schemes to determine which agencies are classed as 'primary agencies' and which are classed as 'contributing agencies'.
We have introduced a Table Builder feature to allow users to create their own rankings from the database. This feature is available only to WARC subscribers.
Users can build rankings of agencies, agency networks, agency holding companies, brands or advertisers, which they can download to an Excel file. They can filter these rankings by product category, geography, or (for agencies, networks or holding companies) agency type.
We have divided agencies in the database into one of three broad groups: Creative, Media and Digital/Specialist Agencies – a broad category that includes pure-play digital, specialists in PR, brand consultancy and other marketing services.
Because of the effects of the points cap (see above), there may be a very small number of minor discrepancies between custom-built filtered rankings from the Table Builder and the company's overall ranking as published by WARC.
In a ‘normal’ year, the 2021 rankings would compile the results of award shows that ran the year prior to its publication (e.g. the 2021 rankings reflect the results of award shows that ran in 2020). However, the disruption to the awards industry in 2020 caused by COVID-19 has meant we have had to adapt our methodology for the 2021 and 2022 rankings for a number of reasons:
- To create a ‘fair’ playing field across agencies and advertisers
- To ensure the rankings as far as possible are comparable year on year
Our 2021 WARC Rankings therefore contain the results of:
- the results of all tracked shows that took place in 2020
- the year 1 results of shows that took place in 2021 that awarded two years’ work, split by campaign execution date
Our 2022 WARC Rankings (launching Q1 2022) will contain the results of:
- the results of all tracked shows that took place in 2021 (excluding b) above)
- the year 2 results of shows that took place in 2021 that awarded two years’ work, split by campaign execution date
The date of the split in year 1 and year 2 work varies by show. Where a show has judged the two years separately and confirmed these dates to us, or published separate eligibility periods, we have used these dates. For any remaining shows, we have split their respective eligibility periods into two even time periods.
All awards information, including lists of winners and details of judging criteria, is based on data that is in the public domain, whether through public, free-to-access web pages, press releases or other information for the media.
The location assigned to individual campaigns is based on the location in which the campaign ran. If global, the location is where the campaign originated. The location of the primary agency is assumed to be the location of the original idea behind the campaign.
Wherever possible, English versions of each campaign name have been obtained, whether by contacting the original awards scheme directly to obtain a translated version of results, or by using a translation service. Where the same campaign has been awarded at different competitions in different languages, the English version of the campaign title has been used.
We have divided agencies in the database into three broad groups: Creative, Media and Digital/Specialist Agencies – a broad category that includes specialist digital, direct, PR, brand consultancy and other marketing services.
This year's data is currently being updated.