Before 2011, the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity was known as the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival. Owing to rapid developments in brand marketing and creative communications as well as continuous innovations in related industries including technology, client management, and customer service; the festival now has 24 broad based awards that keep expanding with numerous categories added under them and existing ones refined each year. For instance, while the Entertainment Lions for Music award for creative musical collaborations and branded original music content, has existed or quite some time, the 64th Lions this year went on to introduce two new categories i.e. Brand Sponsorship of a Music Event, Festival or Artist Tour and Brand Integration into Existing Music Event. The category already awards collaborations amongst brands and music artists; use of music composition and production for brands; creative use of music platforms and technology for brands and artists; and live music experiences for brands or artists including events, festivals, stunts or installations; amongst others.

 

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The point is, marketing ideas are increasingly finding their way into newer channels and creativity is becoming more measurably effective. While it may not be possible to measure creativity, there is increasing substantiation that creativity matters for the bottom line, clearly differentiating the most creative companies from the rest.

For one, it was also in 2011 that the Creative Effectiveness Lions, which measure the tangible business impact of creative brand-led campaigns and other work on business over a long-term period, were introduced. This is, by no means limited to the commercial success of the brand or business only. Rather, the award gauges how the work brought about cultural change as well as how it was integral in achieving the brand purpose. The categories included evaluate the impact of charitable, not-for-profit work and government led initiatives; how regional campaigns or other creative work benefited a city, country, and region; results of a global, multi-market creative program, campaign or initiative; the sustained brand effectiveness of a dedicated idea over a period of several years; and the impact of creative brand-led work where collaboration, client-side resource and thinking were instrumental in achieving a business goal.

Other than Cannes Lions, a research conducted by McKinsey & Company analyzes the link between creativity and business performance based on the total number of Lions won by each company between 2001 and 2016, the breadth of categories each represented and the number of years out of these 16 in which a company has been recognized. An article on the research titled, “Creativity’s Bottom line: How Winning Companies Turn Creativity into Business Value and Growth” by Marc Brodherson, Jason Heller, Jesko Perrey, and David Remley, available on the global management consulting giant’s website, McKinsey.com, details the four key business practices most creative firms carried out which, according to the article, “drives their marketing creativity, their ability to innovate, and their capacity to translate those virtues into business value”, differently versus peer companies.

Hardwiring creativity and innovation in daily practices

The first one, “hardwiring creativity and innovation in daily practices”, states that senior executives are themselves examples of creative drive and fostering an innovative culture. At such firms, these objectives are discussed continuously, and employees down the line wholeheartedly believe in the organization’s objectives and their role in achieving them. Also, the most creative companies view marketing as an investment and allocate resources and make decisions accordingly, spending more on data scientists much more than their peer organizations.

Customer fanatics

Second, firms at the top of the creative pyramid are “customer fanatics”, striving to achieve an in-depth understanding of customers through multiple research techniques used to observe customers in their surroundings and understanding problems to which the company’s products can provide solutions. Also, such companies work towards finding new solutions in unexplored areas using customer need insights combined with new business models and technologies.

Feed the need for speed

Thirdly, the most awarded companies “feed the need for speed” by translating insights into action much quicker than rival businesses. With faster decision making as well as having a company culture that encourages risk-taking, such firms have specific goals and a system that keeps track of and reports on who is responsible for which deliverables and the timeline associated with new product launches and marketing campaigns.

Adaptability

Lastly, businesses that have consistently stayed ahead of the curb have a strong sense of “adaptability” where they recognize early market signals after the launch of a product or campaign and step up promptly to reform the offering as well as evolve accordingly, using data and analytics. Known as the test-learn-adapt approach, it requires agility, which is achieved by placing teams in a cross-functional structure who have the authority to act on their own to minimize delays occurring as a result of approvals or expert input.

The research notes that such ‘effective creativity’ comes from ‘disciplined management practices’ that can nurture insights and drive them towards measurable business results by ‘working the problem’. As Wendy Clarke, CEO DDB Worldwide, North America (Formerly Coca-Cola North America’s President of Sparkling Brands and Strategic Marketing) puts it, “If you leave creativity behind, you are leaving some measure of effectiveness behind too.”