I was honoured to be a part of the jury for the Cannes Creative Data Lions this year, evaluating the entries the week before, then spending a couple of days discussing them with an amazing group of super smart fellow jurors, deftly and wittily overseen by jury President Alan Kelly. Entries for this category needed to demonstrate how innovation and optimisation had created increased consumer engagement and commercial success.
My colleague Vera Sidlova wrote about the five themes for marketing professionals we observed at Cannes this year, and how brands are stepping up. Here are my observations about winning ads from judging the Creative Data Awards on the key theme of ‘levelling up’. Creative Data is a fascinating category which looks at how ideas and information are used together to create something very powerful. There are lots of variations on the theme, including sub-categories such as data-enhanced creativity, social data and insight, a data-driven consumer product, data storytelling, right through to data visualisation.
Many of the entries focused on giving people equal access to products and services or supporting businesses to be on an equitable footing. Three excellent examples of this included:
Data Tienda, DDB Mexico for WeCapital
Our Grand Prix winner provided a means for low-income women with no credit history to get microloans for their start-up businesses. The breakthrough idea was asking them to submit information about which shops they had a credit tab with (often the shopkeepers themselves keep the records in their own handwritten notebooks) and setting up a research and response mechanism on WhatsApp for the shopkeepers to say whether the women had a good record. With five good references, the bank was able to issue loans to women who otherwise wouldn’t get them - over 2,300 MX$ at the time of writing.
The Black Elevation Map, Performance Art for Black & Abroad
This Gold Lion Award winner is a beautiful and clever way to elevate black-owned businesses, literally using an elevation map based on populations, highlighting everything from stores to restaurants in all parts of the US, so that travellers could pick their destination, and choose to support black-owned businesses on their travels.
Not just a Cadbury Ad, Ogilvy for Cadbury Celebrations
There’s been a lot of talk about purpose over the last few years. This talk is now transforming into action. This is a good example which was also awarded a Gold Lion. Featuring King of Bollywood Shah Rukh Khan, it used AI technology to generate custom ads. These ads looked and sounded like Shah Rukh Khan was saying the store’s name. This allowed local store owners to create ads for their own shops for Diwali – thus enabling these retailers to benefit from using a star in their ads that they normally wouldn’t be able to.
Who’s laughing now?
There was also a bit of fun in some of the entries. Apologise the Rainbow (DDB Chicago for Skittles) showed why the green Skittle had been brought back with a magnificent mea culpa, after years of people complaining on Twitter about it. Bringing back the Skittle through a brilliantly casted press conference, which involved apologising to the complainants one by one, as well as direct responses on Twitter, led to an engaging and effective campaign. Humour can be a key differentiator in advertising, and a key contributor to effectiveness.
Bring on the data
Some of the entries consisted of multiple data sources, using a variety of tech approaches. Sometimes it was hard to see what an individual data source was adding to the party, or to the overall idea.
What all the winners had in common was a thread between the data sources. The reason for including them, the creative idea and the overall impact were clear and identifiable. This is particularly important when a brand is explaining how their actions have a positive impact.
Creating societal impact
Campaigns that have the ambition to level up have a high hurdle to jump over – but can reap great rewards. Recent analysis from Kantar’s Link ad testing database shows that ads that have an environmental or societal message, and score highly for believability, are likely to show a +34-point increase in terms of meaningfulness.
Ads with a credible environmental or societal message are more meaningful
Source: Kantar Link database
Meaningfulness means that the communication meets people’s needs and people feel emotionally connected. It is a vital component in a trio (alongside difference and salience) which means that brands can gain volume, command a price premium and have the potential to increase value share. So, brands that get their purposeful creative right will win on the ROI front. But the messaging must be authentic and align with the brand’s values, so make sure you test your creative to drive value for your brand. Get in touch to find out more.