David Ogilvy has rightly remarked, “If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative”. The job of advertising, Ogilvy said, was to sell the product or service and if it doesn’t do that, it’s a failure, no matter how “creative” it is. Good advertising should give a strong brand connect and generate business across channels. It is the art of thinking smaller, smarter and simpler with the ability to solve the right problem at the right time. The International Festival of Creativity Cannes Lions, through Creative Effectiveness Lions category, honours creativity which has shown a measurable and proven impact on a client’s business – creativity that affects consumer behaviour, brand equity, sales and profit.
Interestingly, only entries that were either shortlisted or Lion winners across all categories in the previous year were eligible to enter into this category as they have already been judged and established as being creatively world-class. Heineken’s campaign, titled ‘Legendary Journey: Justifying a Premium the World Over’, by Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam was a global campaign that demonstrated significant increases in market share in every country and won a Grand Prix in this category. Beyond the Grand Prix, there were six Lions awarded in this category that included Coca-Cola's ‘Share a Coke’ from Ogilvy & Mather, Sydney; John Lewis's ‘From Crying to Buying’ from Adam & Eve DDB, London, American Express's ‘Small Business Gets an Official Day’ from Digitas, New York, etc.
However, India’s show has been disappointing in this category. This category was introduced by the Cannes Lions authorities in 2011 and BBDO India remains the only Indian agency to have won a Lion in this category that year for its client Gillette. In 2011, India sent seven entries under this category. The number dropped to two in 2012 and this year, there was just one entry sent. This brings us to one question – Why are Indian entries lagging behind in the category? Don’t we have campaigns that have resulted in the growth of client’s business or do we have lack of substantial data and measurement metrics to validate the claim?
Titus Upputuru, National Creative Director, Dentsu Marcom said, “I am not too surprised and it's not just India. World over, we treat our brand work and award work as two different things. Most of the creatives who come to interview have usually two folders. One is what they call ‘brand work’ or ‘regular work’ and the other they call ‘award work’ or ‘pro-active’ work. But what I am surprised about is the fact that our award shows have come up with a category like this. What does this supposed to mean? Does this mean all the other categories are ineffective? I dare not say that. But that's what this implies. That the rest of the categories are just some sort of art and only work entered and won in this category is supposed to be profitable.”
“There could be quite a few reasons why we haven't done well in this category. First reason is that the category is new. Cannes or any other advertising show (with the exception of Effies) has only celebrated great art and copy. One proof of release is all that we are asked for. Secondly, this category demands numbers. While many fake numbers (I saw an Indian entry in Promo lions this year which has a brand name I have no clue of. It claimed to have increased sales to 21 per cent – now how will you check that, there is no system to validate that). Thirdly, this category is not so fancy to enter in. Most creative people entering these shows are not interested how much business a client makes because of a piece of communication,” Upputuru added.
According to Pratap Bose, Chief Operating Officer at DDB Mudra Group, the Creative Effectiveness Lions is the “truest award at Cannes”. It celebrates highly creative genuine work which is translatable into sales for the client. “The work has to have an outstanding idea that delivers remarkable results which is very tough to win anyway. We have enough cases in India to be able to prove effectiveness but there should be world-class creativity to be able to win.”
Lessons to be learnt from the winners
Experts believe that most of the campaigns that have won are of extremely large brands. The idea is scalable and it has either moved people or created staggering results. They also pinpointed that most of the work that has won are integrated campaigns.
The task at hand was that Heineken is available in 170 markets around the world but although people everywhere bought into one product, they didn't buy into one brand. The difficulties of appealing to everyone, everywhere in the same way were obvious. But the dangers of not doing so were also apparent. In very different markets, Heineken was coming under pressure and the cost of inaction had the potential to be severe. Heineken knew that a profitable future meant maintaining a consistently premium image everywhere. Hence, to grow globally Heineken needed to think globally as a brand for the very first time. The brand decided to embrace Heineken's globalism rather than denying it. With its entrepreneurial Dutch roots, Heineken had always looked beyond its own small world to bigger horizons. The task for Heineken's first global campaign, through W+K Amsterdam, was to elevate the brand by elevating the drinker by turning him into a legend. Across three very different types of market, the campaign proved premium, distinctive and desirable; it had a positive impact on volume and value share. The Jury felt that in the beer category, it is difficult when it comes to differentiating a brand and its advertising and Heineken was successful at both.
Upputuru believes that any work created for any client must work and must be effective. “Some of the work seemed to really move people. However, one of the easiest ways people of reckoning work is by showing the number of views on YouTube. That seems to suffice and validate a piece of work as a great piece of work. But viewing something and doing something about it are two different things. Saying ‘wow’ to the Mona Lisa painting and buying it are two different things,” he added.
Naresh Gupta, Managing Partner, Bang in the Middle feels that this is an extremely difficult category to win in. The full might of campaign needs to be packaged and sold. That is the reason there was just one entry from India. “It is a category where TV-centric approach won't make you win the Lion. To win in this category, brands have to do far more than TV and print advertising. The campaigns that won this year had an impact beyond say, sales numbers or awareness metric. They impacted the pop culture; they became part of life of the country. We haven't seen a campaign like this at least in last couple of years that did achieve that kind of impact. The very fact that we did not have more than one entry is an indicator of that,” Gupta said.
Ways to improve performance
In some cases, great work wasn't awarded because the poor quality of the papers submitted to support that work's effectiveness. Many outstanding ideas could not be validated with documents. Hence, the countries must support the effectiveness of the creative idea with proper documents to be able to win.
“I guess it needs a new perspective on award shows. We must ask what we are awarding. Are we doing exhibitions? Maybe we should call the awards as shows like fashion shows. Where people can come and display (at their cost) whatever they wish to display like fashion designers does. And that is all the glory that they can have. There is no need of awards at the end of the show, like there are no awards at the end of a Fashion Week,” said Upputuru.
“On the other hand, if we truly believe that our work can result in great business, then we must find ways to encourage that. All the work must be effective. This way, clients will respect the partnership so much more because they are not merely signing a piece of paper saying this was released in a particular year but believe in it and themselves push the standards too,” he added.
Experts believe that the industry needs to come up with campaigns that have the ability to solve the right problem at the right time. India still needs to improve a lot to come up with truly effective campaigns.
Gupta added, “I also feel that to win in this category, we as an industry will have to learn the art of presenting the work in more serious meaningful way. The width and depth of campaign needs to be captured. I am sure we can do that, hopefully we may have a better show next year.”
A judicious mix of a differentiating piece of creative work that translates to large volume of sales for the client will help India win the Creative Effectiveness Lions. It’s still a long way to go for India to be able to produce a campaign matching international standards with a scalable strategy and powerful idea. So better luck next year!