‘Short-termism’ and budget cuts are slicing the success of creative campaigns in half says IPA

The effectiveness of creative campaigns is under threat, says the IPA / Creativity Volvo Life paint

The effectiveness of creativity is under threat according to a new report from the IPA.

According to the findings, the dual impact of marketing ‘short-termism’ and lower investment have sliced the success of creative campaigns in half over the past four years.

Released at Cannes this week, the trade body's 'Selling Creativity Short' report combined the IPA’s effectiveness Databank with the Gunn Report’s database of global creative award wins from the top 46 creative shows around the world. In combination they were used to examine the relative effectiveness of creatively awarded campaigns in comparison to non-awarded work. As the Gunn report data begins in 1996, the research looked at 479 cases, 92 of which were creative awarded campaigns.

The report is a follow up to earlier research around the topic published by the IPA in 2011 which reached the positive conclusion that “creatively awarded campaigns are becoming more effective”. The most recent study, however, has tracked effectiveness up until 2014 – noting that the onset of the global financial crisis and the evolving media landscape have “modified the mood of marketing”.

Creatively-awarded campaigns are now just six-times as efficient as non-awarded campaigns, down from 12-times in 2011. This means that for every unit of investment in those campaigns that had been recognised for their creativity now just drive six-times more market share growth per-annum than non-awarded work.

The research puts this drop down to the fact that budget investment behind creativity has declined quickly, driven in part by the recession. The IPA notes that the extra share of voice (ESOV) and measure of budgets (a brand’s share of voice minus its market share) have both dipped by 12 per cent overall in the past ten years. Creatively-awarded campaigns have been hit the hardest by this fall with ESOV declining by around 20 percentage points, leaving them at a budget disadvantage.

Another factor undermining effectiveness according to the IPA is the “dramatic” growth in short-termism’. Since 2006, the number of IPA campaigns running for less than six months has more than quadrupled to over 30 per cent, and for creatively-awarded campaigns it’s been even sharper sitting at 45 per cent.

The research argues that creativity delivers business results most strongly over the long-term, pointing to ads like Specsavers long-running ‘Should Have Gone to Specsavers’ work as an example of this.

Marketing consultant and report author Peter Field said of the research: “There are a number of clear recommendations to emerge from this analysis for any marketer wishing to tap the considerable potential of creativity to boost effectiveness. What is clear is that creativity is greatly worth striving for so long as it us used for long-term objectives. Short-termism is a threat not just to the power of creativity but also the health of brands.”

The question for brands then is how to make creativity sustainable in organisations. Marketers from the likes of Procter & Gamble, Heineken and Mondelez posed their own queries on the matter to Field at the launch of the report in Cannes earlier today, all too aware that there’s still big job to be done. Indeed, Field warned that “if we don’t stop defining creativity by short-terminism then within the next five or six years well end up with no business advances through creativity because it just doesn’t deliver over those shorter term periods”.

“You have to design campaigns over a longer period if you want any value out creativity. It is not a quick win way of doing business,” he added.

Donald Gunn, founder of The Gunn Report added: “This latest report presents a brilliant analysis of all the factors, trends and issues, as well as thought-out, detailed recommendations on how to tap the powerful potential of creativity to deliver superior sales. It deserves the attention of every ambitious marketer.”

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