Creativity makes ads '11 times more effective'

Creativity has business power and boosts the efficiency of advertising.

Creativity in advertising does contribute to the bottom line as it seems to be making a substantial contribution to the efficiency of a campaign, it has been officially established in a recently released survey report.

A unique analysis of IPA Effectiveness Awards and Gunn Report reveals the business power of creativity, according to which high levels of creativity make advertising campaigns at least 11 times more efficient.

A new research study from the IPA and Thinkbox, in conjunction with The Gunn Report, has revealed the direct correlation between strong advertising creativity and business success. The study shows that the most creatively awarded advertising campaigns are 11 times more efficient at delivering business success.

The study, which builds on findings from an earlier study by the IPA – Marketing in the Era of Accountability (2007) – involved analysis of a wide range of award-winning and non-award winning campaigns, including those by Budweiser, Volkswagen, Virgin Atlantic, Cadbury's Dairy Milk and BT. In total, 175 campaigns were analysed.

In the region, advertising agencies are often blamed for creating campaigns for the jury and refrain from showing anything out of the ordinary because of high interference by clients, conveyed an industry professional on condition of anonymity.

Describing the flip side of the coin, Rahul Nagpal, Partner and CEO of Classic Partnership Advertising believes that "the region is in 'creative transition' where brands are recognising that creativity builds lasting 'brand value' and ultimately has a positive impact on the bottomline. Egypt, Lebanon and the UAE are at the forefront of this transition competing with some of the best in the world. What we are missing is creative consistency but give it another few years, and I am sure we will have another story to tell".

He also believes that creativity will contribute as much, if not more, to the efficiency of the campaign. "Without doubt. Ultimately every communication delivers a stimulus in the form of an emotion as human beings tend to react in similar ways to those emotions, irrespective of where one sits on the globe," explains Nagpal.

The research, commissioned by the IPA and Thinkbox, and undertaken by independent marketing consultant Peter Field, analysed the correlation between campaigns' performance across a wide range of the world's most respected creative awards determined by The Gunn Report, and their performance in hard business terms recorded in the IPA Effectiveness Awards Databank between 2000 and 2008.

The Thinkbox/IPA analysis examined both the effectiveness (in terms of a campaign's ability to drive business effects such as share, sales, profit and loyalty) and the efficiency (in terms of share growth per point of excess share of voice) of creatively awarded and non- awarded campaigns.

The report highlighted various other points, apart from the impact of creativity:

- Dollar-for-dollar, creativity makes ad campaigns more efficient; on an average, creatively awarded campaigns (ie in major awards competitions recognised by The Gunn Report) are at least 11 times more efficient.

- The vast majority of Gunn Report creative award scores (74 per cent) are for TV commercials, showing that TV creativity is at the heart of the success of these campaigns. The remaining scores cover press and online.

- The more creatively awarded a campaign, the more effective it becomes.

- Creatively awarded campaigns are much more likely to be 'emotional' than 'rational' (44 per cent versus 19 per cent). This partly explains the prevalence of TV in creatively awarded campaigns as TV creates emotion better than other media.

- Investing in creativity is a powerful way to achieve fame (ie buzz). The study shows that brands can buy awareness but not fame; fame is proven to be at the heart of the most effective advertising.

- Creatively awarded campaigns that invest strongly in excess share of voice (ESOV) perform particularly well, suggesting that many creative campaigns could further improve return on marketing investment (ROMI) by investing more in share of voice (SOV).

- Despite generally being disadvantaged by lower levels of ESOV, creatively awarded campaigns still generate more and greater business effects than non-awarded ones.

- With the same level of ESOV, creatively awarded campaigns would have driven twice as much market share growth as non-awarded ones.

- Creative awards strongly reflect consumer liking of ad campaigns. On average, 35 per cent of consumers ranked Gunn-awarded campaigns as 'highly liked' versus just 20 per cent for non-Gunn awarded campaigns. Liking an ad is the best predictor of business success.

Peter Field, author of the new study, comments: "It has been fascinating to do this analysis. We've seen a strong link in previous studies, but since Donald Gunn's 1996 report titled "Do Award Winning Commercials Sell", we just haven't had an update on the numbers. The takeout from this report should be that creative campaigns are more effective when they have more, rather than less, budget put behind them; and that creativity helps drive long-term business success, providing a powerful antidote to the short-term nature of so much activity today."

Neil Simpson, Chairman of the IPA Value of Advertising Group and CEO of Publicis, said: "Each IPA Effectiveness Award competition has long provided succour to the creative community and creatively-minded clients when its awards have gone to such critically acclaimed advertisers such as Stella Artois, Levis and Honda.

"Their multiplier effects have also been discussed and written about by a number of convenors of judges. What we have now is the weight of eight years of statistical evidence and an exciting, and very tangible, set of findings to provide food for thought for all advertisers," he said.

For the Middle East, creating affective campaigns calls for various challenges. "All things being equal, subjectivity is a key barrier to building creative standards for any brand. If there is brand alignment between the stakeholders at the client's side and the agency side, 'objectivity' should typically replace 'subjectivity'," said Nagpal.


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