Creative Creative Works

Kahlua, Heineken and Dettol top Kantar’s most effective campaigns of the year


By Amy Houston, Senior Reporter

April 25, 2024 | 9 min read

Ads were tested across 16 markets, 35 clients, 41 brands and 28 categories. Today, we can exclusively reveal who made the list and what this says about wider advertising trends.


Salma Hayek in a Kahlua ad / Kahlua

Now in its fifth year, Kantar’s annual Creative Effectiveness Awards has revealed which brands have been creating the most impactful, meaningful and different work in the eyes of the public over the last 12 months.

Unlike awards chosen by industry juries, Kantar’s annual study is based on direct consumer feedback. From December to January, its team watched thousands of ads that had been selected through consumer testing and began to whittle them down. Kantar’s evaluations provide a birds-eye view of what works for advertisers, along with fresh and ongoing techniques for building strong connections with audiences.

Once the final winning ads were selected, the team began to focus on any emerging trends. This year, they have identified five categories of ads: courage, catastrophizing, candid, consistent and comical.

“We pick a theme each year and this year it’s creative consumer connections,” explains Kantar’s global knowledge manager Polly Wyn Jones. “Because these aren’t just creative ads, they’re effective because they’ve worked for the people who’ve watched them and the people who ultimately are going to be buying the brands.”

In a first, Kantar has also expanded its digital, social and TV categories for the first time to include data from Link AI, which is the company’s artificial intelligence-based solution for testing digital and TV advertising. The service is trained and backed with consumer insights to give accurate responses.

This year, we’re highlighting the best spots within each trend and explaining what makes them so great. You can view all of the winners here.


According to Kantar’s research, 80% of consumers say that they do make an effort to purchase from brands that support causes that are important to them personally.

“The root of this trend, we think, is that actually, consumers are getting more confrontational,” says Vera Sidlova, global creative thought leadership director at Kantar. “Particularly in North America, but not limited to it, when people don’t like something your brand is doing they’re more likely now to engage with you on social media and tell you. That can be quite a tricky terrain for brands because you don’t want your bottom line to suffer or damage your brand reputation.”

She explains that Kantar has seen in their winners that when courage wasn’t compromised and was rooted in insight, consumer connections were forged, and it paid off.

One strong example of this is ‘Sticking with Chicken’ by Mother for KFC. It ranked as the number 8 top spot in the TV category this year and presents a gutsy twist on the notion that the customer is always right. Following lots of calls on social media to introduce ‘Kentucky Fried Turkey’ for Christmas, the brand took a bold stance on declining the offer and sticking to chicken without regret.

Another standout ad was from ad agency AMV BBDO for Bodyform. ‘Periodsomnia’ portrays a realistic interpretation of what it takes to manage periods during the night. Being a taboo subject in many parts of the world, this film courageously moved the category forward and raised awareness of this topic landing it the number 9 spot on the list. As Sidlova explains: “It isn’t sugarcoating anything.”


In the era of doom-scrolling, getting social media users to actually ‘stop the scroll’ is trickier than ever. However, grabbing attention is necessary to achieve creative effectiveness.

Kantar’s data shows that digital ads that engage viewers emotionally are up to four times more likely to drive long-term brand equity and four times more likely to cut through compared with those with weaker emotional connections.

Many of this year’s winners used creative hyperbole, dramatic flair, and occasional tongue-in-cheek catastrophe to captivate audiences and maintain an emotional connection with the content, effectively delivering the brand message.

In the digital/ social category, the winner this year was a Facebook ad named ‘Gasp’ for the Mexican coffee liqueur brand Kahlua, starring Salma Hayek. The spot gives viewers a lesson in cheeky melodrama and draws inspiration from Mexican telenovelas.

“They struck a balance between being over the top but also communicating that you can disrupt your everyday while also communicating the brand heritage,” adds Sidlova. “It’s almost like alchemistic combination.”

Another ad that exemplifies this theme is Peroni's ‘Live Every Moment’ campaign. This spot shows that pop culture, music, and art can act as sources of inspiration as well as vehicles for delivering hyperbole. Taking the number 4 slot, the Italian beer brand brings audiences cinematic-style storytelling.

Throughout the ad, viewers follow Nino, who digs his way through snow to have a fresh, draught glass of beer. Underscored by Pulp Fiction’s song Miserlou, the protagonist’s plight is watched and accompanied by cheers from locals, from nuns to friends in flashy jackets.


Over the years, the picture-perfect posts have dominated social media feeds. But in recent times there’s been a shift in this dynamic, with many people calling for more relatable content. Kantar has found in its research that brands that are adopting a more candid take are cutting through and resonating with audiences.

This is highlighted in this year’s number 6 winner in the TV category ‘First Date – For Your Date’ from Cadbury Dairy Milk. The ad is a great example of healthy gender portrayal and shows a simple and heart-warming moment between a father and son.

“It’s very much on the other side of hyperbole. It’s the very small moments that most people can relate to,” explains Kantar’s global creative thought leadership manager Ecem Erdem. “It manages to have that meaningful connection with the consumer.”

Of course, drama can be engaging and escapist, but the relatability of everyday humble moments is always relatable. Coming in at number 1 in the Link AI category, this Dettol spot brings something as simple as laundry to life in a big way. Erdem adds: “This theme is all about either serious or casual messages but all about life and communicating that to consumers, all in a very creative way.”


Think of some of your favorite ad slogans. They have probably been around for many, many years. And with good reason. As Mark Ritson once famously said, “It’s a failure that so many marketers pull so many of their campaigns prematurely when their best days are yet to come.”

Being consistent offers brands a brilliant opportunity to deepen consumer connections through strong ideas, themes and stories. Wyn Jones explains that consistency is all about “sticking with an idea and keeping it over many years.”

One brand that has famously done just that is Heineken, which has this year won across all three media categories. To mark its 150th anniversary, the beer brand is highlighting its global reach with this campaign and recognizing that simply by asking for ‘the green one’ people know what they will be served.

Of course, you can’t highlight the longevity of a brand without talking about Cadbury. This year’s number 2 TV winner goes to ‘Yours For 200 Years/Yours Always’ from ad agency VCCP.

The spot cleverly weaves the chocolate maker’s successful and well-loved ad, ‘Mum’s Birthday,’ into a modern and adapted version. It also seamlessly adapts the brand's slogan, which has been used for over 80 years. According to Kantar, slogan use is another feature we see used 6% higher than average among Kantar Creative Effectiveness Awards winning ads.


Humor in advertising is a theme that has been steadily on the rise for a couple of years now, much to the delight of many in the industry. In fact, there will even be a new humor category at Cannes this year. It comes from a realization that, at the end of the day, people love a good laugh.

According to its data, Kantar has noticed a 12% higher overall use of humor within its awards over the years. A great example of this Tena Men spot by AMV BBDO. Ranking number 12 in the winning digital/social ad category, the short film uses humor to address the sensitive issue of male incontinence, clearly no laughing matter, yet consumers loved this ad. It takes a serious message and delivers it humorously.

In a second example, this TV winner from Samsung brings viewers the wonderful ‘wow’ cat. This spot was researched in 10 different markets and uses a witty style that travels easily without the barrier of language.

Overall, these five themes have shown that by listening to consumers and using creativity to cut through will result in winning campaigns. You can view all of this year’s winners here.

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