The year of the share: 12 campaigns that hit the high-water mark of advertising achievement

Each year, James Hurman and The Gunn Report compile a list of the campaigns that have won both a Cannes Gold Lion and a gold Effie. Here’s this year’s run-down. 

When I interviewed McCann Melbourne executive creative director John Mescall this year about the secret of his agency’s success he told me there’s one question they always ask when picking an idea to recommend to their clients: ‘Will people share it?’ 

It’s a trick every advertiser in the world would be wise to adopt. Numerous major studies including both the Effie’s and IPA’s inquiries into advertising effectiveness have shown that the most effective campaigns drive ‘viral’ or ‘word of mouth’ or ‘fame’ effects far beyond the norm. 

This year’s Cases for Creativity corroborate all of the above. As usual, we’ve scoured the winners’ lists from this year’s Cannes Lions and some 35 Effie competitions from all over the world to uncover the campaigns that won both a gold Lion for creativity and a gold Effie for effectiveness in 2014. 

  • See 2013’s cases for creativity here and 2012’s here

Representing the high water mark of advertising achievement, this year’s 12 campaigns again show the ability for creativity in all its forms to drive extraordinary results. Traditional TVCs sit alongside PR stunts, technology experiments and good old-fashioned consumer promotions. 

Effectiveness continues to defy media categorisation – but the one thing this diverse group of ideas do have in common is that people saw fit to share them. Just as millions shared the revelation that Google autocompletes the sentence ‘women should’ with all manner of discriminative atrocities, so did millions share dancing babies from France and a road safety television commercial from New Zealand. 

The wonderful meritocracy of sharing is that you simply can’t buy shares. The only way you get them is by doing something truly great. Something that people – normal, ordinary people – find so compelling that they pass it on. It’s a high benchmark. One that can’t ever be reached with laboriously honed brand blueprints or checklists of mandatories or ever predicted by Link tests. Only the most engaging creative ideas executed by the most talented people will be shared. 

One of those is Ogilvy & Mather Sydney’s ingenious ‘Share a Coke’. How could you not Instagram a photo of you and your personally named Coke? The campaign won a gold Lion back in 2012 and achieved an impressive list of sales results in Australia that summer. 

Ordinarily, that’d be that. It’s been done, it’s done its job for the client, it’s won its awards, onto the next thing. But Coca-Cola has always been an extraordinary marketing organisation and they proved it again by recognising the value of the Share a Coke idea and electing to share it with the world. They took their gold Lion winner and exported it to markets across the globe. 

And this year that repeated campaign won gold Effies in no less than four different countries – China, Egypt, Malaysia and Belgium. 

Advertising is a throwaway culture. We have brilliant, transformative ideas for our clients and as soon as they’ve won their awards we discard them. What Coca-Cola has shown is the value to be gained from taking our best work and sharing it onwards. 

The lesson from this year’s Cases for Creativity is not only the power of creativity to drive effectiveness by being sharable, but the even greater effectiveness in continuing to share what we create. 

We asked Hurman a couple of questions about the list.  

1. Why are there so few campaigns that win both creative and effectiveness awards? 

There are actually hundreds of campaigns each year that win both creative and effectiveness awards. The Cases for Creativity only looks at the absolute top tier – the work that wins both a gold Effie and a gold Lion. Those awards are both incredibly difficult to win on their own, and so of course you’re only ever going to end up with a handful that achieve both. The statistics still show that creatively awarded work over-indexes massively at effectiveness shows. You can win with uncreative work, sure, but you’re much more likely to if your work is highly creative.

2.  Creativity is viewed by some clients as a proven driver of commercial success. But are they in the minority? Are there still issues convincing some there is a definite link? 

We’ve definitely seen a big shift over the last decade. There’s just too big a mountain of evidence to support the effectiveness of award-level creativity to credibly deny it. But, of course, there’s a role for retail advertising and tried and true promotional activity and that sort of thing within a brand’s mix. So I think clients are looking to balance that mix in the right way. I don’t think you’d find many marketers who’d say they wouldn’t like a Tui Catch-A-Million or NZTA Mistakes for their brand.

3. If it’s all about shares, is there a danger of focusing on vanity metrics?

Sharing has been proven to lend both reach and credibility to a campaign. And from a return on investment point of view, shared campaigns eclipse paid-media campaigns. As for vanity, are TARPS a vanity metric? I think viewing reach and awareness as vanity is pretty dangerous. To have a campaign that’s ‘strategically right’ but which consumers ignore is foolish for obvious reasons – it’s that kind of academic vanity which sees so much advertising spend go to waste. For advertising to work, people have to see it and be moved by it. The most likely way to have consumers pay attention to and actually engage with your campaign is to do something that their friends pass on to them. And that’s only going to become truer with time. 

The 2014 Cases for Creativity

1. ‘A Boy And His Atom’ for IBM by Ogilvy & Mather, USA

IBM’s atomic data storage research could well result in our being able to store every film ever produced on the smart phone in our pocket. In an off-kilter but nonetheless charming homage to that research, Ogilvy & Mather had IBM scientists manipulate single molecules to create what is now recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s smallest stop-motion film. A Boy And His Atom won gold at the 2013 Branded Content & Entertainment Lions and was named one of TED’s Ads Worth Spreading. After becoming IBM’s most shared piece of content ever, the campaign landed gold at the North American Effies in 2014.

2. ‘Baby&Me’ for Evian by BETC, Paris, France

This, the most successful execution off Evian’s ‘Live Young’ brand platform, proves that CGI babies = LOL remains a valid insight. When I looked today the YouTube counter was toddling toward 97 million views. The excellent metro station posters won gold at the 2013 Outdoor Lions, and after sales climbed up to 30 percent in all the campaign’s markets, the work took gold at the 2014 EACA Euro Effies.

3. ‘Bentley Burial’ for Brazilian Association of Organ Transplants by Leo Burnett Tailor Made, Brazil

A lesson in bait and switch, this deftly handled media rug-pull saw Brazil’s leading nutbar millionaire promise to do like the Pharoahs and bury his most prized possession – a $500K Bentley. As the nation recoiled in disgust, journalists showed up en masse to film the burial, but were instead implored to find the burying of something even more precious – our organs – as even more foolhardy. After winning gold at the 2014 Promo & Activation Lions, the Bentley Burial drove organ donation up far enough to earn the Grand Prix at the 2014 Brazil Effies.

4. ‘Catch a Million’ for DB Breweries by Saatchi & Saatchi, New Zealand

Buy a box of DB’s Tui beer, get a free tee shirt, wear the tee shirt to a cricket game, catch a ball with your left hand, win $100,000. Living 200 metres from New Zealand’s biggest cricket ground, I can attest to the popularity of this promotion. In making their bright orange tee shirts more ubiquitous than the teams’ supporter shirts, Tui managed what every sports sponsor secretly desires – to become bigger than the sport itself. This ‘six’ earned them gold at the PR Lions and the Grand Prix at the New Zealand Effies in 2014.

5. ‘Dumb Ways to Die’ for Metro Trains Melbourne by McCann, Melbourne, Australia

Gold at the 2014 Asia Pacific Effies was likely (and fittingly) the final piece of metal given to this, the most awarded advertising campaign of all time.

6. ‘Happy ID for Coca-Cola’ for Coca-Cola by McCann Erickson, Peru

Despite enjoying a buoyant economy, Peru’s Gross Domestic Happiness languishes toward the bottom of its regional rankings. In yet another excellent execution off their ‘Open Happiness’ brand platform, Coca-Cola created ID card photo booths that would only take your photo if you smiled, turning the nation’s ubiquitous ID card into a symbol of national happiness. In the first month of the campaign, 90 percent of the IDs made by the Peruvian government were Happy IDs, earning McCann the Grand Prix Media Lion and gold at the Peruvian Effies.

7. ‘Mistakes’ for New Zealand Transport Agency by Clemenger BBDO, Wellington, New Zealand

“Please, I’ve got my boy in the back” is the chilling central line in this TVC depicting a man who pulls out early at an intersection pleading with a speeding oncoming driver not to crash into him. The creative idea is that time has paused, allowing the conversation to happen, but not to change the inevitable result of driving too fast. The spot freaked the shit out of New Zealand drivers and the Cannes jury alike, earning a gold Film Lion and a gold New Zealand Effie this year.

8. ‘Potable Water Generator’ for Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología by Mayo Publicidad, Peru

Plagued by a lack of safe drinking water, the coastal desert area around Lima has almost zero rainfall but an atmospheric humidity of 98 percent. A billboard that sucked moisture from the air to create safe drinking water resourced hundreds of families and inspired students to join Peru’s University of Engineering & Technology with a demonstration of the transformational power of imaginative engineering. The campaign won golds at the Promo & Activation, Outdoor and Media Lions in 2013 and a gold Peruvian Effie this year.

9. ‘Share A Coke’ for Coca-Cola by Ogilvy & Mather, Sydney, Australia

This brilliant repackaging concept from Coca-Cola first appeared in 2012, winning a gold Outdoor Lion for Ogilvy Sydney. Its considerable results drew only a silver Effie that year in Australia, but the campaign was exported across the world, enjoying no less than four 2014 gold Effies in China, Egypt, Malaysia and Belgium.

10. ‘The 1000 Miles of Luca’ for Consejo Publicitario Argentino by TBWA, Argentina

When Pablo Poncini’s Buenos Aires agency was assigned to create a campaign to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities, he took it personally. The camera was turned on him and his Down syndrome son Luca, following them on a road trip through Patagonia. The resulting nine minute film tells the story of Poncini becoming blind to his son’s disability. “Little by little, the Down syndrome disappeared and Luca appeared,” says Poncini in the heartwarming story that won gold at both the Film Lions and Argentina Effies in 2014.

11 . ‘The Autocomplete Truth’ for UN Women by Memac Ogilvy by Memac Ogilvy – DXB, United Arab Emirates

You can imagine the mixture of elation and disgust the creative team felt when they typed ‘women shouldn’t’ into Google and stumbled across this enormous idea. Shining a light onto such an historical problem with a torch as modern as Google was a masterstroke that deserved every one of its four gold and titanium Lions and gold MENA Effie. An uncomfortable symptom of the success of The Autocomplete Truth is that now, if you type ‘women shouldn’t’ into Google, it no longer autocompletes. 

12. ‘The Unlaunch of the Volkswagen Kombi’ for Volkswagen by Almap BBDO, Brazil

The decision by Volkswagen to stop making Kombi vans forever is probably the stupidest in their existence, but Almap BBDO managed to divert attention away with their endearing campaign announcing the ‘last model’. Buyers rushed in, forcing Volkswagen to produce twice as many last models as they thought they’d need, and the Unlaunch won two gold Branded Content Lions and a gold Brazilian Effie in 2014. The headline “Unintroducing the Volkswagen Kombi. Soon at no dealerships near you.” is also gold.

  • This story originally appeared on thegunnreport.com
  • James Hurman is ‎founder and principal at innovation consltancy Previously Unavailable​. Check out his book The Case for Creativity here

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