Key marketing lessons from the IPA Effectiveness Awards

The advertising awards really worth winning are, in my book, the IPA Effectiveness Awards. These require detailed, rigorous work to isolate and quantify the brand and business building effects of communication. The convenor of judges for 2016, Bridget Angear of AMV BBDO, shared key marketing lessons from the award winners in a recent Marketing article that I summarise below.

1. Taking a longer view

The biggest theme I took out of Bridget’s article was having a longer term view and harnessing the power of fresh consistency. She talks about “brilliant longer-term successes” that stick to a brand idea and set of brand properties, but then refresh this over time. One award winner we have posted on here is the John Lewis campaign. Another example is Guinness, that has stuck with the Made of More platform I posted on here, learning and adjusting as it went forward.

2. The commercial value of purpose

“A number of papers added to the existing body of evidence that there is commercial value in having a social purpose”, commented Bridget. Importantly, and in line with our own findings from brandgym research, this purpose needs to be “truly embedded in the brand, committed to over the long term and delivers real change (as opposed to being stuck on top as a marketing campaign)”. Dove by Ogilvy & Mather continues to be a leading example of being purpose-led, 12 years after it was first launched. It is a great example of fresh consistency, with the brand continuing to find new ways to build women’s self-esteem by celebrating “real beauty” while driving product sales.

3. People power

A second trend was brands using people as their most powerful media. Save the Children’s annual “Christmas Jumper Day” activation campaign is another great example of fresh consistency, being on its fourth year now. Donations in 2014 topped £4m, suggesting that four million people took part. The idea highlights people’s readiness to get involved in a positive cause, especially when a brand makes this both fun and easy.


4. The benefits of tailored targeting?

One of Bridget’s marketing lessons I would challenge regards targeting. She says that 19 of the 39 shortlisted papers targeting specific audiences is evidence that counters one of Byron Sharp’s “rules for growth” – that mass targeting is needed to grow a brand. For example, The Economist targeted a specific group names the “intellectually curious” to increase subscriptions and Pepsi Max focused on millennials by setting up a YouTube channel to “entertain its audience, not just sells to them.”

The right answer is, I suggest, a combination of Byron’s and Bridget’s views. Having a clear core positioning target helps create distinctive marketing more effectively than having a very broad target. However, the ultimate aim is to have as much reach as possible to drive penetration by appealing to a wider user target. Pepsi Max may focus on millennials but needs to sell to a much broader target to compete with Diet Coke and Coke Zero, for example. I posted here on these different types of target audience.

5. Building customer experience

Bridget’s final point about “the importance of product and service to deliver an enhanced customer experience” was music to my ears. She suggests that “there will no longer be a need to augment a product or service with emotional value – companies will simply need to be more useful and better.” Since the first post back in 2006, this blog has been campaigning for ‘brands built on substance not spin’ with product ‘sausage’ not just emotional ‘sizzle’.

Bridget highlighted entries that “show imaginative solutions to business challenges that go beyond conventional communications”. For example, Adam & Eve/DDB’s campaign for Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles “reshaped the entire business around customers’ needs, shifting perceptions of the brand from being a  van manufacturer to a service partner.”

In conclusion, the latest crop of IPA effectiveness awards confirm our key beliefs about communication: it should be business-focused, combine product sausage and emotional sizzle and build fresh consistency over time.