Sometime in the not too distant past, as researchers around the world proved unanimously that highly creative content is much more likely to drive greater commercial success, the argument over whether advertising should strive first to be ‘creative’ or ‘effective’ was replaced with a simple ambition to be both.
Today it’s clients as much as creatives who aspire to do the most creative work that in turn leads to the most outstanding commercial results. And the Holy Grail for client and agency partnerships has increasingly become to win a gold Lion and a gold Effie with the same campaign.
Putting aside nerdy squabbles about which award shows are best, a Cannes Lion generally represents the global standard of creative excellence, and an Effie the same for effectiveness. Both are programmes that attract entries from every market and provide genuine rigour and objectivity in their judging processes.
As the case for creativity would suggest, ‘creative and effective’ campaigns are common. The larger Cannes Lion winning campaigns almost always show up at the Effies (alas, rarely do clients invest in the expensive measurement metrics required to compile an Effie paper in the case of their smaller campaigns, and often it’s these smaller campaigns that win creative awards, thus the illusion of a preponderance of creatively awarded yet ineffective campaigns).
However, going all the way and winning a gold award at either Cannes or the Effies is bloody difficult. Of the hundreds of thousands of campaigns produced around the world this year past, 141 were creative enough to win a Gold Lion and 300 were effective enough to win a Gold Effie. These winners represent the tiniest fraction of a percentage point of our industry’s work.
And winning both – taking home a Gold Lion and a Gold Effie for the same campaign - is a delicious rarity. A high watermark of human achievement in creative communications, and the kind of work we’d all love to be able to stake our names to.
Nine campaigns joined this exclusive club in 2012*, and the thing that stands out most is what a remarkably broad creative canvas these campaigns represent. Funny TV, clever promotions, brilliant social media, emotive social marketing, huge integrated ideas, and killer innovations. There is little in the way of consistency in style - if anything, it's gratifying evidence that communications creativity in all its forms can be super-effective.
The one theme, of course, is that these are all cases for creativity. Persuasive appeals to drive outstanding commercial success by producing work that’s highly original, hugely engaging and brilliantly executed. To do things that consumers and the media find fascinating enough to talk about. And most of all, to quote Faris Yakob from his recent commentary in Millward Brown’s 2012 Effie Report, to “be awesome”. Because “in a world driven by sharing, if it doesn’t spread it’s dead, and awesomeness, the emotion of awe, is what drives the most spread.”
And so, having collected up and scoured the winners lists from both Cannes and the past year’s 40 Effie shows, here are the nine awesome gold Lion winning campaigns that went on to pick up a gold Effie in 2012:
- “Book Burning Party” for Troy Public Library by Leo Burnett, Detroit, USA
- “Born of Fire” for Chrysler by Wieden+Kennedy, Portland, USA
- “Curators of Sweden” for Sweden Tourism by Volontaire, Stockholm, Sweden
- “Dads in Briefs” for BGH Air Conditioners by Del Campo Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi, Buenos Aires, Argentina
- “Decode Jay-Z” for Microsoft Bing by Droga 5, New York, USA
- “Rivers of Light” for Ministry of Defence Colombia by Lowe-SPP3, Bogota, Colombia
- “Steal Banksy” for Art Series Hotels by Naked Communications, Sydney, Australia
- “Watson” for IBM by Ogilvy & Mather, New York, USA
- “Write the Future” for Nike by Wieden+Kennedy, Amsterdam, Netherlands
- James Hurman
*At first glance, just nine gold Lion and gold Effie winning campaigns might sound like more of a case against creativity. Shouldn’t the crossover be larger? In fact, no. Only 1 in every 7000 campaigns is creative enough to win a creative award – meaning that of the 300 gold Effie winners there should by rights have been either zero or 1 creative award winner. The fact that there are 9 gold Lion winners (and dozens more creative award winners of other varieties) shows a gigantic over-index of creative campaigns, running well into the tens of thousands, for the statisticians out there. This is consistent with the accepted research showing that creatively awarded campaigns are much more likely to be effective than campaigns on average.
James Hurman is one of the marketing world’s leading strategic thinkers.
Formerly a planner with advertising agencies BBDO, DDB, Publicis and Lowe, James’ career has been built on advertising internationally recognized for its creativity and effectiveness.
His book, ‘The Case for Creativity’, summarises two decades’ evidence of the link between imaginative marketing and commercial success and was described by The Coca Cola Company’s Jonathan Mildenhall as “beautiful words of wisdom”.
In 2012 James was ranked the world’s #2 planner, his work won 8 Cannes Lions and his agency was ranked the world’s 5th most effective.
Recently James traded Powerpoint for Excel, becoming Managing Director of Y&R New Zealand.
James can be contacted at www.caseforcreativity.com