The WARC Creative 100 is a ranking of the world’s most awarded campaigns and companies for creativity. 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 Creative 100 has run since 1999 (formerly the Gunn Report) and sits alongside two other rankings: the WARC Media 100 (formerly included in the Gunn Report), and the WARC Effective 100 (formerly the WARC 100) which has ranked effectiveness since 2014.
To compile the WARC Creative 100, we track different advertising competitions around the world – all of them require entrants to show the creativity of the campaign. Campaigns (and the brands and agencies behind them) are awarded points based on the prizes they win in those competitions.
The WARC Creative 100 methodology follows the approach of the WARC Effective 100 methodology (previously the “WARC 100”), which was developed in consultation with an independent third party: Douglas West, professor of marketing and programme director 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:
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity
=The One Show
London International Awards (LIA).
APAC: Spikes Asia, Adfest
Europe: Eurobest, Golden Drum
Middle East & Africa: Dubai Lynx, Loeries
LATAM: El Ojo de Iberoamérica
How we select the shows
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, WARC Rankings conducts the following global research:
- We survey senior creatives, 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, we use 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 category that is open to all types of marketing activity will be harder to win than a category that is only open to, say, digital marketing campaigns.
To reflect this, we takes into account how much of the global advertising market each competition, and individual competition category, 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 category in which a campaign wins, its Award Points are multiplied by the weighting for that category, at that competition, to produce a score.
For example, if a campaign wins a Silver in a competition category 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 the Creative 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 rankings.
As with campaign scores (see above), there is a cap of 20 Award Points (equivalent to two Grand Prix) that a brand or agency can win from a single campaign in a single competition.
As with campaign scores, all Award Points are multiplied by the relevant Competition Weighting to produce the scores for agencies and brands.
There is a cap of 200 points that a brand or agency can win from a single campaign across all competitions.
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.
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.
Please note that the Creative 100 dating system changed as of the 2018 rankings. In years prior to 2018, the 'date' referred to the year of analysis, rather than the year of release – so the previously named Gunn Report 2016 was released in 2017 but referred to 2016 award wins. This was been changed to bring the WARC Creative 100 and the WARC Effectiveness 100 into alignment.
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.
Methodology – 2016 and earlier
Prior to the 2018 methodology change, The Gunn Report combined the winners' lists from all the most important advertising award contests in four categories: Film, Print, Digital and All Gunns Blazing.
All Gunns Blazing was our collective term for what the award shows variously call Innovative, Avant Garde, Titanium et al. It also encompassed the top winners in the top shows in Branded Content & Entertainment, Promo & Activation, Direct, PR and ambient Outdoor. We allocated TGR points between Film, Print/OOH, Digital (includes Mobile) and All Gunns Blazing in proportion to global split of adspend across media.
The level of award that counted for a given show was “Cannes Bronze Lion Equivalent”. The level of prize could vary from year to year for the same show, if a jury had been very generous or very stingy.
Winner Points applied to the following tables: Countries, Advertisers, Production Companies, Directors, Agencies and Agency Networks.
Winner Points were awarded as 1 point for each win at the qualifying level at a qualifying show, and 2 points for a Best of Show. In the case of multiple winners at the same show for a single ad or campaign, the maximum points that can be awarded is two (or three if one is a Best of Show).
Ad Points applied to the following tables: Film, Print, Digital and All Gunns Blazing.
Ad Points, in order to achieve more separation and spread, were basically double the Winner Points – 2 for a winner, 3 points for a Cannes Gold, a One Show Gold or a D&AD Yellow Pencil, 4 for a Best of Show (Grand Prix or D&AD Black Pencil). Plus 1 extra point for a second winner for the same ad at the same show.
This methodology legislated strongly against over-awarding at any one show. Specifically, whether an ad/campaign won twice, or 4 times, or 6 times, or 8 times in the same competition at the same show, it received 2 Winner Points and 3 Ad Points.
Starting in 2014, a change in methodology was introduced to Winner Points. This put a “cap” on the total points a single ad/campaign was allowed to contribute across all the shows per year, per discipline, in the Countries, Advertisers, Production Companies, Directors, Agencies and Agency Network tables. This “cap” was 15 points in Film and All Gunns Blazing and 10 points in Print and Digital.
Finally, in the case of the Film, Print, Digital and All Gunns Blazing tables, there was also a tie-break when points scored were equal. This was based on a combination of wins in depth (difficulty shows/level awards) and wins in breadth (# of shows and regions).