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Cannes 2017

Creativity Is A Driver Of Business Performance

Advertising agencies and award shows both have such a standing interest in making the business case for creativity that one must wonder why no one has found a firm linkage before today.  Jason Heller, McKinsey Partner and Global Lead of Digital Marketing Operations and Technology, kicked off the 64th Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity with new research published this week indicating that companies with a solid track record of creative award wins also have superior financial performance.

Heller and his McKinsey colleagues analyzed the results of sixteen years of Cannes Lions award data to produce the Award Creativity Score (ACS) index. The ACS index looks at the total number of Lions won by a company, the breadth of categories won, and the consistency of their winning over time. They found that top ACS performers outperformed their peers on three widely-watched financial indicators: organic revenue growth, total return to shareholders, and net economic value.  Not only that, but those same ACS standouts also outperformed on McKinsey’s own index of innovation.

IPA and the Gunn Report have made the link between creativity and effectiveness in the past, showing that creatively awarded campaigns are 11 times more effective than campaigns that received no awards, but the McKinsey research goes beyond that to show the broad scale positive impact of a pattern of creative success.

That kind of repeated creative performance, Heller suggests, is no accident. His research showed that companies high on the ACS index do the following:

  1. Make creativity a day-to-day part of business, which means talking about it at the highest levels, treating marketing as an investment, and protecting marketing budgets in downturns.
  2. Become fanatical about the customer, which means learning about them in multiple ways, observing them in their environment, and creating differentiated ways of going to market.
  3. Act fast, which means being both fast decision makers and risk takers while also setting clear goals and report about creativity and innovation.
  4. Move with agility, which means building cross-functional teams with autonomous decision making ability.

Amidst all the emphasis around the science of marketing—performance marketing, marketing AI, and advanced analytics—Heller warns that “we sort of forget about the art of marketing.”  This research may help restore that balance.

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