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Agencies World Creative Rankings Agency Advice

How can agencies make effective and creative work?


By Sam Bradley | Senior Reporter

March 2, 2023 | 7 min read

How do the world’s best ad agencies make work that’s effective, as well as exciting? AMV BBDO, Serviceplan, Impact BBDO, Alma, Zulu Alpha Kilo share their secrets.

How do top agencies marry effective ideas with eye-catching creative?

How do top agencies marry effective ideas with eye-catching creative?

The advertising business, from C-suite executives to ambitious creatives and industry awards juries, still loves a big creative idea. This year’s World Creative Rankings show us the work the industry considers brilliant. But at the same time, brand-building campaigns are coming under extra scrutiny from CMOs and critics. Effectiveness, not effervescence, has become the watchword.

That doesn’t mean effectiveness and creativity can’t go hand in hand. We asked the best of the best, ranked among the top 20 in the world, how they embed an effective approach as deep and early in their creative process as possible.

How do you solve a problem like… marrying creative excellence with effectiveness?

Alexander Schill, global chief creative officer, Serviceplan Group

To be effective in advertising, we have to understand what people feel, and start there. Traditionally we call it ’finding the right insight’. In real life outside advertising, it is called empathy. Sometimes we forget about this simple fact. If we really understand what people actually feel, and take it from there, the whole power of creativity can be put into craft and design. While simply telling the truth.

Lola Neves and Sam Williams, heads of strategy, AMV BBDO

It comes back to the basic truth that you can’t make people care about your brand if you don’t care about them in the first place. As the pioneer of qualitative research, Wendy Gordon wrote: “Human beings ’allow’ brands into their lives only if they are relevant.“

So to create effective marketing, we first need to understand what drives them –often decoding the gaps between what they say and what they do. It requires us to step out of our own realities and immerse ourselves in theirs, dig deeper and push beyond the data, attitudinal studies and trend reports, toward an understanding of them as a person.

At AMV we call it ’Radical Empathy’, but however you brand it, we strongly believe it’s the bedrock of meaningful creativity.

alvar sunol

Alvar Suñol, co-president and chief creative officer, Alma

I think that what bridges creative work and effective work is relevancy. Inspiring your team to leverage the power of cultural relevancy can be a strong connector between an idea that’s exceptionally creative and that brings your client real results. To achieve that relevancy, we try to grow ideas from cultural tensions or nuances that have a clear connection to the brand and emotionally connect with consumers. When you do great, relevant work, there’s a greater chance it gets recognition at creative festivals and strategy festivals like the Effies, but most importantly, the recognition of the consumer.

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Zak Mroueh, founder and creative chairman, Zulu Alpha Kilo

I founded the agency on the belief that solving the most complex problems requires a seamless and equal blend of creativity and strategy. In my experience, the best creatives are great strategic thinkers, and the best strategists are great creative thinkers. So, we insist every brief begins with a clear definition of the business problem we’re trying to solve. A lot of agencies completely focus on the creative solution alone. But we are as equally obsessed with figuring out the right problem at the outset. After all, what good is a brilliant creative solution to the wrong problem?

Ali Rez, chief creative officer, Impact BBDO Group MENAP

That’s not a problem at all. To us, the two are inextricably linked. You can’t really get to any kind of valuable effectiveness if your target is not going to notice or remember your message – that’s a prerequisite for persuasion as old as communication itself. Sure, you can hound, annoy or stalk your consumer into noticing you, but you’re not going to be much loved – that’s not the kind of effectiveness that creates true value for a brand. In our experience, creativity is always directly proportional to effectiveness.

Explore the best-performing campaigns, agencies and brands in this year’s World Creative Rankings.

Agencies World Creative Rankings Agency Advice

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