Cracking the effectiveness code


Marketing effectiveness is what all great marketers and creatives strive for with their campaigns - but with no widely-accepted definition of exactly what ‘effectiveness’ is, its meaning has remained ambiguous. However, new research by James Hurman and Peter Field, to be published by the team behind Cannes Lions and WARC, aims to clarify marketing effectiveness across the industry.

This post has been published in partnership with Cannes LIONS. 

Creative effectiveness is in crisis. As revered effectiveness expert, Peter Field, suggested in his Crisis in Creative Effectiveness report for the IPA, “We have killed the power of creativity – once the most valuable weapon in the effectiveness arsenal”. 

This essential study, launched at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2019, highlighted short‐termism in marketing and a misunderstanding of how brands grow as the key factors in the crisis. And, more damningly, creatively awarded campaigns were found to be less effective now than they have been in 24 years of data analysis. 

There is no doubt that the global marketing community produces a plethora of extremely effective work. But, judging by the amount of campaigns that aren’t entered into effectiveness awards, it seems the vast majority still don’t deliver high‐level impact. 

Field’s report found that high‐performing creatively awarded campaigns are eight times more effective than their low‐performing peers, (in terms of the number of business effects they generate), and almost 16 times more likely to bring major profitability growth. But despite marketers’ best efforts as a unified force, we appear no closer to convincing executive leadership to invest in or recognise marketing as a driver of business growth. 

This raises the question: how can the marketing and advertising community become more consistently successful at developing highly effective creative marketing?

Marketing effectiveness expert, James Hurman, alongside Peter Field, came together with Cannes Lions and WARC to undertake new global research to try and answer this question. Over the last year, Hurman and Field have analysed and compared nearly 5,000 effectiveness case studies from 2011 – 2019, including every major market in the world.

From these findings, Hurman and Field have created one of the largest ever studies of marketing effectiveness, entitled Cracking the Effectiveness Code. The study will be released on the 22nd of June as part of the LIONS Live virtual event, but before its launch we are able to share an exclusive look at some of its findings.

A shared language of effectiveness

As part of the study, Hurman and Field spoke to dozens of client and agency leaders across the world to canvas their views on the state of effectiveness. These conversations sought to understand how the global community could better share their learnings in order to improve the effectiveness of creativity. The responses from these discussions saw a consistent theme: a shared definition of effectiveness does not exist and without speaking a universal language, it is challenging to identify and learn from the most effective creative work. 

So, as a solution to this challenge, the study sets out to identify the main types of marketing outcomes and rank them according to commercial value, to create a framework the industry can use to discuss effectiveness.

Climbing the Creative Effectiveness Ladder

In response to their findings, Hurman and Field have developed The Creative Effectiveness Ladder. This new framework is designed to create a universal definition and shared language of effectiveness to help strategists, planners, senior marketers and people responsible for maximising creative effectiveness to use creativity more effectively.

The Ladder can be used as a continuous improvement tool for marketers and agencies, to get a clearer picture of what success looks like, to learn from best practice, and understand what needs to be tracked and measured, so that they can more consistently produce highly effective creative campaigns and initiatives. 

The Ladder identifies the six main types of effects that creative marketing produces, setting them in a hierarchy of levels from least to most commercially impactful. The study breaks down the key principles of climbing the ladder, and what’s required to reach the upper levels. 

The topline findings of the study will be unveiled in a keynote presentation by James Hurman and Peter Field, supported by a dedicated downloadable white paper where the outcomes are fully explained. The presentation is taking place as part of LIONS Live, the digital platform by Cannes Lions, from 22 – 26 June 2020. 

Join LIONS Live:

Cannes Lions and WARC are urging clients and agencies to work to increase the effectiveness of their campaigns, to ensure they’re maximising the results they’re generating for their brands.

  • By joining the keynote and downloading the white paper, you’ll take a deeper dive into each of the levels in the Ladder, plus gain access to case studies and best practice examples for each of the six levels, learning how and why they worked.
  • The white paper and resources highlight the types of metrics that can be used to prove effectiveness at each level, which media channels are most effective for each level, and most importantly, the winning behaviours that are consistent across campaigns that have been highly effective at each level.

  • The study will also reveal an important new principle of effectiveness discovered from the analysis. One that’s going to really challenge the direction for the industry and lead to an increase in effective creative marketing.

Sign up to join LIONS Live and access the programme here.