In the dynamic realm of advertising, creativity is the spark that ignites not only brand recognition but also substantial profit. We interviewed Jane Ostler, EVP, Global Thought Leadership at Kantar, to delve into Kantar’s newest study “Creativity is Business.”
How did this project come about?
Kantar created the “Creativity is Business” programme along with the Association des Agences-Conseils en Communication (AACC) and Media Le Figaro in 2022 to examine the impact of creativity on profit. The Cannes Lions 2023 was the fourth set of award-winning ads we analysed since the launch of the programme.
What was the aim of the research? Was there a specific question you wanted to answer?
The aim of the study was to find out to what extent the creative work celebrated through awards programmes is really driving business success. Kantar and AACC looked at award-winning campaigns and tried to evidence that those which had been awarded or recognised for their creativity outperformed the others in terms of profit. We tested 56 campaigns which had won Effies, Cannes Lions or Grand Prix Stratégies de la Publicité, and all tested above the standard on both commercial and branded impact. So, we were able to establish that these campaigns, already lauded for their creativity, are also driving more value, more profit and more recognition for the brand.
Could you share key numbers from the research carried out by Kantar?
Of the 56 campaigns we tested, 96% were positioned in the top 33% of Kantar’s advertising pre-test database in terms of media, brand or commercial impact. 95% were effective in terms of media impact – which we define as the capacity of the campaign to generate approval in connection with the brand, to ultimately instil it in people’s minds for the long term. 67% were effective in terms of brand impact, or the capacity of the campaign to reinforce the meaning and differentiation of the brand, and to build brand equity. 55% were effective in terms of commercial impact – the capacity of the campaign to reinforce the brand’s purchasing intentions in the short term. 45% were effective on all of these criteria.
How did you go about the research? What methodology did you use?
First, we analysed the performance of the seven French campaigns awarded at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity in 2021 through the prism of our advertising pre-test solution LINK+. We found that all are effective, whether through their media, commercial and/or long-term brand impact.
Then we applied the same approach to the nine campaigns awarded Gold at the 2023 Advertising Strategies Grand Prix, and came to a similar conclusion: All these campaigns are effective as well as being stand-out examples of creativity. We then analysed 40 of the campaigns awarded an Effie in 2022, a prize which recognises advertising effectiveness, in order to evaluate to what extent this effectiveness was accompanied by creativity. These campaigns were analysed by Link AI, Kantar’s Artificial Intelligence solution dedicated to analysing advertising effectiveness. We know that by nature, Effie-winning campaigns are effective, but we were able to establish that 93% are also creative, which is reflected in the creative assessment scores – the ads had high engagement and approval rates.
We have thousands of data entries and data points and we can use this to benchmark the performance of an ad
During creative testing we look at different factors: how effective is the ad at driving emotions, is it persuasive, will it build brand equity? All the things we know campaigns need to do. We have a huge database of creative tests (2,700 in the past five years in France). We have thousands of data entries and data points and we can use this to benchmark the performance of an ad. We also use leading-edge technology which can measure people’s emotional responses to an ad to understand if it is having the intended effect. For example, if it’s a funny ad, does it actually make people laugh?
How can you measure creativity in a way that ensures it will lead to a profitable campaign?
In a separate study, Kantar worked with WARC to ensure that the metrics in our LINK+ ad testing solution are validated against campaignprofitability (ROMI). We did this by matching ads in WARCs database of over 1,100 award entries and winners from around the world, with Kantar’s Link ad-testing database. This work found that on average, creative and effective ads generate more than four times as much profit. The Kantar LINK+ solution includes measures validated against both short-term sales impact and long-term gains in equity. Both of these metrics (not just sales impact) help drive profit, and ads with strong long-term performance tend to do best overall.
What is the influence of creativity on the advertising world?
To create something that people will remember – be it your brand or brand assets – and connecting those throughout the entirety of your campaign. We associate creativity with emotion and brand impact, but it is also something you can measure, and CMOs should be able to quantify and understand how it drives their businesses’ success as well as deliver gongs and plaudits.
What influence does AI have on creativity in advertising?
We use AI and machine learning across Kantar’s portfolio. Link AI was developed to help our clients and creative agencies shape ads and improve the performance of their campaigns from inception. We use the power of a meaningful data set of over 250,000 ads globally and results are delivered in as little as 15 minutes, so advertisers can make go/no-go decisions faster and launch campaigns with confidence.
Humour is one of the biggest drivers of brand impact in advertising. But it is also sadly, underused.
How can CMOs ensure their advertising is distinctive and stands out in a crowded field?
Brand needs to drive performance, and performance needs to drive the brand. The two should reinforce one another. They do unite, but they rely on distinctive and obvious connections of different parts of the campaign. CMOs have brand assets under their control and those assets are the most important thing in ensuring the campaign is recognised across all channels. Knowing what your distinctive brand assets are is crucial for creativity and making your ads memorable.
What works in advertising today? Are there trends?
Humour is one of the biggest drivers of brand impact in advertising. But it is also sadly, underused. A touch of emotion is always a good thing, because it creates memories and resonates with consumers. The interesting thing, however, is that we have seen from our global data that in every single country, humour, for the last few years, has been in decline – although it has recently staged a bit of a comeback. Of course, we are living through difficult times. And the important themes of sustainability, diversity and inclusion need to be very carefully and authentically woven into a campaign and stories. Positivity really does help. Advertising has a responsibility, not only to raise the bar on profitability, representation and effectiveness, but to entertain people along the way.