Winning effectiveness awards are what matter most – and Australia’s in contention at Cannes

effectiveness lionAs the Australian contingent heads for Europe for next year’s Cannes festival, Australia is in with a shot at the prized Grand Prix for Effectiveness, argues last year’s winner Steve Coll.

The argument in favour of creative awards is being made more vigorously than ever. Surprisingly, it’s not creative agencies making the case. It’s our clients.

Some of the world’s best marketers are embracing creative awards like never before. And nowhere is this more apparent than at Cannes, recently rebranded as the Festival of Creativity.

For several years, Cannes has been consistently demonstrating the correlation between work that works and work that wins. Matt Beispiel, Senior Director of Global Brand Development for McDonald’s, points to a measurable difference. “We’ve seen an ROI 54% higher with creative that wins at Cannes Lions than creative that doesn’t.”

Andy Fennell, CMO of Diageo, puts it succinctly. “10/10 work drives success that 7/10 work doesn’t.”

The link between work that wins and work that works was further strengthened last year by the introduction of the Creative Effectiveness category at Cannes.

The Creative Effectiveness Lions “honour creativity that has shown a measurable and proven impact on a client’s business – creativity that affects consumer behaviour, brand equity, sales, and where identifiable, profit. It will aim to establish a direct correlation between creativity and effectiveness.”

Whatever your previous opinion on awards, its hard to argue with that.

Entries are scored on four points and weighted to emphasize effectiveness. Those criteria are Strategy (25%), Idea (25%), and Results (50%).

To qualify, a campaign must have been recognised for creativity in the previous year’s festival. You must then submit a strategic paper proving your idea was the cause of your client’s success. To win last year’s Grand Prix, Tom White (our brilliant planner on the Walkers ‘Sandwich’ campaign) systematically dismissed all other possible influences to prove our campaign was the sole link to the dramatic increase in sales of Walkers crisps.

The jury is again likely to favour campaigns with this level of focus, a hurdle broader brand campaigns may struggle to clear.

If you look at last year’s Cannes creative winners in this light, you can see some of the Australian campaigns are strong contenders.

Clem’s Melbourne should have a strong argument to show their ‘Break Up’ campaign was the sole factor in gaining customers for NAB, especially when you consider the parity that exists across most of the banking sector.

Similarly, Grey Melbourne will benefit from a single-minded starting premise for their compelling ‘Ripple Effect’ campaign. ‘Ripple Effect’ recently won Platinum at the coveted AMEX awards in the States, which suggests the Grey planners have written a strong paper.

The likely competition will come from the UK and US. Strategic planners from the UK are used to producing strong papers for their rigorous local effectiveness awards.

Contenders will include ‘Let’s Colour’ from Dulux and Nike’s ‘Write the Future’ campaign, a Gold winner at this year’s Effies. It would be surprising if the US doesn’t feature strongly too.

Last year, 27 of the 142 submissions came from the States. The early favourite for this year’s Grand Prix must be ‘Imported from Detroit’, a powerful, emotional campaign that has helped turn the flat-lining Chrysler business around.

Two Canadian campaigns are worth checking out. ‘Find Red’ for M&M’s, was a Bronze Lion winner at last year’s Festival, and also performed well at the AME awards.

James Ready ‘Help us Help you’, a Silver Lion winner, was recently awarded the Grand Prix in Canada’s Effectiveness awards. Other outsiders are ‘Save as WWF’ from Jung von Matt, Germany, one of my favourite campaigns from last year and another winner at AME, and the multiple Grand Prix-winning ‘American Rom’.

Winning Creative Effectiveness is a unique experience. More than any other award, it is a celebration of the entire team – the strategic planners, creative, production, account service, and most particularly, the clients.

Fingers crossed it’ll be an Aussie team celebrating this year.

  • Steve Coll is ECD at Euro RSCG Sydney. He was previously with AMV BBDO in London which won last year’s Effectiveness Lion.


  1. paul the freelance writer
    14 Jun 12
    12:54 pm

  2. If award-winning creativity is innately effective, why the separate ‘creative effectiveness’ category?

  3. Mutual appreciation society
    14 Jun 12
    1:13 pm

  4. Sounds like bullshit to me.. ‘hey lets make an award winning ad, call if effective and head to Cannes for some high five action’

  5. matt
    14 Jun 12
    3:45 pm

  6. I think celebrating campaign effectiveness on a global scale is a worthwhile exercise for the industry, in many ways. There are many local effectiveness awards, and Steve, as I think you’re alluding to – they’re not all created equal (you’d have to say the IPAs in the UK are the preeminent effectiveness awards, with the local Effies looking pretty lightweight in comparison). So a big, global effectiveness award gets a big tick from me.

    But where Cannes have got it wrong is the way in which they only invite previous year’s winners and short-listers to enter. Yes, it means as judges you don’t have to read as many entries – but it doesn’t help the industry make the case that great creativity works better than average creativity – because only great creativity is allowed to enter in the first place.

    If Cannes (and our industry for that matter) truly believes that great creativity works, it should have the confidence to allow anyone to enter its effectiveness awards – good work or bad. Assuming the papers with a great idea at the heart of it work better than those with average ideas (which I passionately do), you’re making a far greater statement to the wider marketing industry about the true power of great creativity against everything else.

  7. Question
    15 Jun 12
    8:14 am

  8. If it’s all about “effectiveness” why aren’t results weighted 100%?

  9. pulp
    15 Jun 12
    12:19 pm

  10. wasn’t the Grey one entered last year?

    isn’t that ad from 2010?

  11. mumbrella
    15 Jun 12
    12:40 pm

  12. Hi Pulp,

    You can only win the effectiveness Lion if you win the previous year, so that one category is effectively on 12 months delay.


    Tim – Mumbrella

  13. Nick
    15 Jun 12
    6:10 pm

  14. Finally good to see decent advertisements!
    The English and Euro’s do it so much better than us.
    I am a true blue Aussie; though our TVC’s are boring, uninspiring, often plagiarise and in many cases actually insult you by making such dumbed down advertising.
    I just don’t know why us Aussies are just so bloody awful at making TVC’s