A radical re-think: why business transformation needs to get creative

A study of creative business transformation in association with Deloitte Digital

A radical re-think: why business transformation needs to get creative

Businesses face some of their toughest challenges ever. New technology combined with cultural, political, and pandemic-related shifts have upended established ways of working. New solutions are likely needed to drive efficient growth. Creativity can provide a life raft. Yet, new analysis shows that there is a creativity gap in business. Many companies in pursuit of growth have given insignificant consideration to creativity’s role in achieving this goal. To reverse this trend, business leaders should take a new approach and lean upon marketing and creative leaders to apply creativity across all areas of business; in short, deliver creative business transformation. This report by Deloitte Digital and LIONS can help you in this pursuit. It unpacks new insight on how creativity can be harnessed to supercharge business transformation, with practical steps, gathered from the winners of the Creative Business Transformation Lions, on how to apply it successfully. To inform this report, Deloitte Digital and LIONS analysed 26 pieces of work entered into Creative Business Transformation Lions at Cannes Lions 2020/21. This analysis was complemented with eight in-depth interviews with the shortlisted and Lion-winning brand-agency teams, and four interviews with members of the Creative Business Transformation Lions jury.

Foreword by Simon Cook, CEO, LIONS

Simon Cook CEO, LIONS

The power of creativity cannot be underestimated. It has the power to advance business, change behaviour and shape entire societies. Through LIONS’ work to set the benchmark for new creative ideas over the past 68 years, we have seen creativity change laws, breathe new life into brands, stand up for social injustice and set new standards for sustainability. To showcase the techniques and skill that shape this kind of break-through creativity, Cannes Lions has long-celebrated the creativity within individual disciplines and media specialisms. Yet as consumer touchpoints expand, and experience design, digital technology and traditional media converge, the industry called for a new Lion to celebrate the broader application of creativity in business; the Creative Business Transformation Lions. The creative industry continues to shape business through powerful branded communications, but its problem-solving abilities are now being sought out to provide solutions across core business functions. The Creative Business Transformation Lions recognise the ingenuity that leads to new products and services, and the reinvention of operations and customer experiences to drive transformative change. Following the first year of work entered, we wanted to understand the unique approaches that fuel successful creative business transformations. Using the data and winners from this Lion as a launchpad for investigation, we have collaborated with Deloitte Digital to explore this subject in more detail. The insights shared in our in-depth interviews with Lion winners have uncovered techniques and working practices for business transformation that are as creative as the work they foster - changing business models, re-thinking measurement, and sourcing creative ideas from unlikely places.

We’ve unpacked these strategies in this co-created report to provide direction on how CMOs, business leaders and creative partners can use creativity to evolve their business transformation; in doing so, we hope to prove once again that creativity is a fundamental tool for business growth.

This report is co-authored by LIONS and Deloitte Digital:

From Deloitte Digital:

Andy Sandoz, Global Chief Creative Officer

Leslie Sims, US Chief Creative Officer

Timothy Murphy, Research Director – CMO Program

Rory McCallum, Research Manager – CMO Program


Simon Cook, CEO

Annie Smith, Head of Content - Insight & Advisory