What creative trends are driving ROI?

Warc's analysis of this year's IPA Award winners found TV-led and emotional strategies among the most effective.

Advertising and media effectiveness firm Warc has unveiled the broad themes that appear to help brands get the best business results out of their campaigns.

The insights were compiled based on trends the firm observed among the winners of the 2018 IPA Effectiveness Awards, an international competition celebrating work with a demonstrably high ROI.

Among the findings of its annual report, Warc identified understanding emotion, grasping the power of social media, breaking in a low-attention economy and going with a TV-led media strategy as some of the common insights behind last year’s winning work. Insights are generated by analyzing the metadata of the winning entries and identifying themes and trends around what makers advertising more effective.

For one, WARC found that a strong understanding of how emotional marketing works helped propel brands to the top. Fifty-five percent of winning campaigns cited emotion as their main creative strategy. This includes Audi’s Grand-Prix winning “beautiful cars” campaign (pictured) by the U.K.’s Bartle Bogle Hegarty, which helped it overtake BMW in the U.K.’s luxury car category by showing that the beauty and intelligence of its cars overpowered speed.

Secondly, TV advertising remains at the top of 2018 winners, with 71% of them using it as their lead advertising channel. This included organizations like the U.K’s Automobile Association, which used TV to “help turn around their businesses” through a campaign that showed positive stories of how the association helped its members keep their lives on track, despite car troubles. Others, such as Guinness, that used the medium to help “build fame,” increasing its market share in the U.K. with a cinematic TV campaign reflecting the historic brand’s cultural connection in the region.

Next, Warc identified “succeeding in a low-attention economy” as being one of the key factors behind effective work. Last year’s top campaigns, such as discount supermarket Aldi’s “Kevin the Carrot” Christmas campaign, used distinctive assets to capture people’s attention and drive recognition. Such a strategy is “a major driver of brand growth,” according to Tom Ewing, head of communications at London-based effectiveness group, System1.

Finally, nearly all of the campaigns that were entered into the awards had a social component, and 71% of winners incorporated social in their media mix. The work that stood out, however, was able to “attach shared meaning to brands,” according to Warc. For example, the “23 Shades, 23 Stories” campaign for L’Oréal Paris True Match saw the company increase its range of foundations in the U.K. to 23 with the goal of promoting a more diverse and inclusive approach to beauty with products that could be used with a wider range of skin tones.

A total of 70 campaigns were entered in the 2018 global IPA Effectiveness Awards. In the end, companies from six countries took home a combined nine Golds, 19 Silvers, 11 Bronzes and 10 special prizes. The only Canadian campaign among the winners was Nissan’s long-running “Conquer All Conditions” campaign by Juniper Park\TBWA.