The creative half of your advertising isn’t working: Kantar says awards don’t boost the bottom line

This year’s Cannes Lions winners are only 50 per cent as effective at long-term branding as the winners of five years ago, according to analysis from Kantar, which also claims that only one in four award-winning creative ads delivers “brand impact.”

Kantar analysed a sample of the 2019 Cannes Lions winners, and concluded that the winning ads might be distinctive, but the excellence often stops there, and poor branding is the key issue.

Perhaps that pack shot should have been bigger after all — or at least, Kantar advises, put the brand at the centre of the storyline, like Deutsch’s “What beer is that?” campaign for Busch, which ranked in the study’s top 10 per cent.

Kantar does not pull its punches, and singles out two popular winners — Libresse’s “Viva la Vulva” and the New York Times’ “The Truth is Worth it” — as low on enjoyment and falling into the bottom 20 per cent.

Darren Poole, Kantar’s global head of creative, said: “Ads without strong branding are entertainment at best — but even then, we have seen enjoyment levels falling over time, due to the rise in ‘sadvertising’ and a decline in the number of ads using humour. What concerns me most is that much of the award-winning creative that we analysed is unlikely to have a strong brand effect in the short term, let alone the long term.”

Kantar may not have got the memo that advertising is supposed to be non-intrusive and entertaining these days, and that the interruptive model is broken. Alternatively, the hard light of Kantar’s data analysis may have uncovered some uncomfortable truths.

Patrick Collister, former creative lead at Google and ECD at Ogilvy, has a theory that Cannes is the advertising equivalent of a haute couture catwalk show: it’s a place where improbable and over-the-top creativity is on show, pushing boundaries before being watered down for general consumption.

If this is the case, then Kantar’s findings can be explained away, but they are not going to be welcome, especially coming so soon after Peter Field’s analysis of IPA winners which also found that creatively awarded campaigns are no more effective than non-awarded ones.

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