July 12, 2022 | 7 min read

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As Burger King's win at Cannes Lions puts creative effectiveness into sharp relief for industry observers, how can agencies and brands go about agreeing on measures of marketing efficiency?

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Industry leaders discuss creative effectiveness with The Drum and Braze at Cannes Lions 2022

To answer this question, we partnered with Braze to host a roundtable of agency and brand leaders on the ground in Cannes.

At this year's Festival of Creativity, brands increasingly looked past the rosé, yachts and gongs to focus on the genuine returns agency creatives had produced for them. David Miami, Ingo Stockholm and Publicis Romania’s win of an Effectiveness Lion for Burger King's “Moldy Whopper” campaign – a project talismanic for many of the pursuit of headlines over actual sales – was a topic of fierce conversation on the Croisette.

As Matt McRoberts, SVP of Global Alliances at Braze puts it, marketers are constantly asking: "How can we be more efficient? How can we continue to drive that forward for our customers? How can you create dynamic teams, do more with less and be more effective and efficient?"

Markers of effectiveness, of course, help chief marketers in those awkward meetings with the CFO. But it's not all about driving down budgets and those questions don't have to be negative for agencies. In Cannes, several agency leaders told The Drum they relished the chance to prove the real-world impact of their campaigns and activations.

Patou Nuytemans, Ogilvy's chief executive officer for EMEA, says: "I love the trend that more brands are putting creativity at the heart of how they achieve their results." It's proof, she suggests, that "they believe in the effectiveness of creativity."

But as the 'Moldy Whopper' debate shows, effectiveness can be a hard concept to pin down. Can agencies and brands agree on equal terms?

Terms of engagement

According to Jason Cobbold, chief executive of BMB Agency, setting out specific parameters of effectiveness at the beginning of the creative process can provide a smoother ride.

"We need to make sure that we work out the question we are actually asking between clients and agencies. If we're clear on what that question is, we can be clear on which KPIs to follow," he says.

Involving the client in the ideation process from as early as possible is vital, he points out. At the same time, agency leaders suggest clients should be brought into the media measurement process from a preliminary stage alongside media agency partners. Having both a media and creative agency approach can help bridge the gap, says Cobbold. "We need to get more objective about how we seriously measure what's going on, in how effective the work that we do is and that we don't try and persuade ourselves that something has worked when maybe it hasn't."

It's a sentiment echoed by Deepti Velury, Global COO of Tag, who adds that it's important for all parties to measure effectiveness from the start to the end of a campaign to minimise wasted efforts. “We need a strong partnership between the agency and our clients to ensure that we're not wasting campaigns and that we are producing content that's relevant and has a purpose.”

Relative success

Long-term campaigns need to have different parameters than short-term activations, agency leaders argue. Though both can have major implications for brands, TV work and major campaigns require a different set of scales than a reactive social post.

But the effectiveness of a campaign over years, rather than months can be hard to fathom. Can one attribute sales rises to an ad or to the economy? As such, clients have often fallen back on short-term measures of success, even for work that would be better examined with a long-term lens.

For specialist agencies, those questions take on different dimensions. Health agencies often look beyond mere sales to actual health outcomes – how many medicines were administered or how many doctors and health providers adopted new forms of treatment.

Guy Swimer, ECD of McCann Health says that the nature of his agency's work – which creates work directed at health professionals, and procurement teams away from the public – defies typical measures of effectiveness.

That doesn't mean big ideas aren't welcome. "While short-term objectives – and measuring them, with regards to how we reach our audience and personalize content – are always going to be important functionally... we should still be aspiring to big thoughts, big ideas that exist in culture," he argues.

Need for bravery

Specific requirements for effectiveness, however they're derived, don't preclude strong creative. As Ogilvy pointed out, brands must avoid being boring.

At toy company Lego, the need to stay entertaining is absolutely critical. As such, every campaign produced by the in-house unit Lego Agency aims to amuse and delight its target audience.

Lego's chief product and marketing officer, Julia Goldin, says "we have to be brave to be able to take these risks and try different things that might work in the short term or the long term."

For Lego, Goldin says, long-term targets are more important than impressions or retweets. The company celebrates its 90th anniversary this year with a campaign dubbed 'Rebuild the world' that nodded back at past lauded work.

"Solutions can come in any kind of form," says Goldin, "but the important thing is to agree on what we're measuring and what's really important and not to get bogged down in very short-term results."

Lessons for marketers

So, what’s the takeaway for marketers? Our speakers distilled their key insights into a highly actionable, six-step framework that both business and marketing leaders can adhere to in pursuit of greater creative effectiveness:

  • Clients and agencies need to agree on which parameters actually matter, relative to the nature of the work

  • Clients, creative and media agencies need to work together from as early a point as possible

  • Non-commercial outcomes can be markers of effectiveness – such as health outcomes for a pharmaceutical campaign, for example

  • Innovation is essential for distinctive work - but consistency of message is also necessary

  • Effective targeting and personalization produce direct relationships between brands and consumers

  • Great creativity can be an outcome of effective marketing in itself

Looking for more inspiration from Cannes Lions 2022? Visit The Drum’s Cannes Cooldown hub and rewatch all of our sessions filmed live on the Croisette.

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