Creativity = Business Value. The Proof

Before we delve into the key takeaways from LIONS Live, a quick reminder: our goal was not just to celebrate creativity for the sake of it, but to highlight the ways it can initiate change. Because it’s safe to say that we now have compelling evidence for the financial impact of best-in-class creativity. The business value of award-winning creativity has been proven through multiple rigorous studies, and the evidence clearly demonstrates that high-quality creativity which is distinctive, emotional, novel, well-branded and has sufficient time in the market has a potent influence on business growth. Here’s a quick recap of those studies, the most recent of which is backed by LIONS and WARC: The Creative Effectiveness Code. This study looked at almost 5,000 award entries and found clear proof that high-quality creative work leads to long-term sales growth and brand building. During his tenure as CMO of Mars, Bruce McColl explained on stage at Cannes Lions how higher-grade creativity – the kind that wins awards – had increased the value of Mars corporation. Mars undertook an initiative to classify their advertising using a one to four star rating (four being the highest rated). They found for every 1% of media spend that they moved into 4-star rated content, it increased the value of Mars corporation by 50 million dollars.

LIONS also partnered with McKinsey to create a study – the Awards Creativity Score Index – which demonstrated a clear link between winning a Lion for best-in-class creative work and positive financial results. They gave a score to a brand based on the quality of their creativity, and when McKinsey looked at the financial results of companies whose ACS scores were in the top quartile, they found that these companies outperformed their peers in organic revenue growth and shareholder returns.

In a study last year, Peter Field highlighted how long-term creativity (work that sits in-market for six months or more) drives growth over time. Assessing multiple effectiveness award winners, Peter’s study shows how long-term creativity enables brand-building. Good quality creative work lays down positive emotional associations between brand and consumer over time – ultimately driving brand affinity, which leads to pricing power. And most recently, James Hurman and Peter Field completed the largest creative effectiveness study to date with LIONS and WARC, based on 4,863 effectiveness award entrants and winners. The report, The Creative Effectiveness Code, proves the link between high-quality creativity and multiple positive business effects. From this research we produced the Creative Effectiveness Ladder, a tool which gives businesses a universal framework of the six main types of effects produced by creative marketing– from changing consumer behaviour to sales spikes to the most positive effect: long-term sales growth and brand-building. The evidence is undeniable; award-winning creativity delivers success in every measurable way. For anyone still on the fence about creativity’s effectiveness, we encourage a read of these reports to see the evidence. And for those looking to embed a common language for creative effectiveness internally, or in client-agency relationships, make use of the Creative Effectiveness Ladder to help categorise and measure the impact you want to have.

Now, let’s delve a little deeper into how world-class creativity is achieved.