The ad world descended on the French Riviera – and broke out the Bolly – this month as Cannes hosted its annual International Festival of Creativity.
Of 31,000 entries from around the globe only 3% are shortlisted, and this year just 27 were deemed worthy of receiving a prestigious Grand Prix, with the likes of Burger King’s Whopper Detour and Nike’s Dream Crazy campaigns receiving the top gong.
In a disappointing turnout for the UK ad industry, its number of awards was down 24% since 2018, and 41% for Gold Lions.
Meanwhile, according to research from System1, this year’s winners were the least effective to win in the past decade. Using its effectiveness research methods to determine the short- and long-term growth potential of campaigns, the study found that five gold-winning ads scored just one star, predicting 0% brand growth.
Les Binet and Peter Field in particular have railed against the industry’s increasing problem with “short-termism”, with last year’s Effectiveness in Context report acting as a rallying cry for marketers to invest in brand in the long-term. Between 2004-16 the optimum spend on brand activity, as opposed to activation, has increased to 76%, according to their meta-analysis of the IPA databank.
In a new report released during the festival, Peter Field has now described a “crisis in creative effectiveness”.
Based on case studies submitted between 1998 and 2018, Field reported that, in the period ending in 2008, creatively awarded campaigns were 12 times more efficient than non-awarded campaigns – but in recent years the multiplier has dropped to just four.
The report comes amid debate around the relevance – and meaning – of the awards, with entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk arguing that awards are given for “work that no human has actually seen”, describing the festival as a week of self-indulgence for ad land.
Creative ideas and stunt-based campaigns may drive likes and shares, and even help win awards, but will not necessarily result in business success. Creativity is crucial, not to impress a board of judges, but to demand consumer attention, and build brand distinction.
It is generally understood that it takes at least six months to drive business results following the launch of a campaign; by taking place every other year the IPA Effectiveness Award allows entries to take this into account to award genuinely hard-working campaigns, rather than judging on “wow factor” and immediate impact. Cannes should take note.
Creativity still matters – but for marketers business results should matter more.