Proved: Creative Advertising = Business Success

- Unique analysis of IPA Effectiveness Awards and Gunn Report reveals business power of creativity -
- High levels of creativity make advertising campaigns at least 11 times more efficient -

London, 17 June, 2010: A new research study from Thinkbox and the IPA in conjunction with The Gunn Report has revealed the direct correlation between strong advertising creativity and business success. The study shows that the most creatively awarded advertising campaigns are 11 times more efficient at delivering business success.

The study - which builds on findings from an earlier study by the IPA, 'Marketing in the Era of Accountability' (2007) - involved analysis of a wide range of award-winning and non-winning campaigns, including campaigns by Budweiser, Volkswagen, Virgin Atlantic, Cadbury's Dairy Milk and BT. In total, 175 campaigns were analysed.

The research, commissioned by Thinkbox and the IPA and undertaken by independent marketing consultant Peter Field, analysed the correlation between campaigns' performance across a wide range of the worlds' most respected creative awards determined by The Gunn Report, and their performance in hard business terms recorded in the IPA Effectiveness Awards Databank between 2000 and 2008.

The Thinkbox/IPA analysis examined both the effectiveness (in terms of a campaign's ability to drive business effects such as share, sales, profit and loyalty) and the efficiency (in terms of share growth per point of Excess Share of Voice) of creatively awarded and non- awarded campaigns.

Key findings include:

  • Pound for pound, creativity makes ad campaigns more efficient; on average, creatively awarded campaigns (i.e. in major awards competitions recognised by The Gunn Report) are at least 11 times more efficient.
  • The vast majority of Gunn Report creative award scores (74%) are for TV commercials, showing that TV creativity is at the heart of the success of these campaigns. The remaining scores cover press and online.
  • The more creatively awarded a campaign, the more effective it becomes.
  • Creatively awarded campaigns are much more likely to be 'emotional' than 'rational' (44% vs. 19%). This partly explains the prevalence of TV in creatively awarded campaigns as TV creates emotion better than other media (source: 'Marketing in the Era of Accountability', IPA).
  • Investing in creativity is a powerful way to achieve fame (i.e. buzz). The study shows that brands can buy awareness but not fame; fame is proven to be at the heart of the most effective advertising (source: 'Marketing in the Era of Accountability', IPA).
  • Creatively awarded campaigns that invest strongly in Excess Share of Voice (ESOV) perform particularly well, suggesting that many creative campaigns could further improve ROMI by investing more in Share of Voice (SOV).
  • Despite generally being disadvantaged by lower levels of ESOV, creatively awarded campaigns still generate more and greater business effects than non-awarded ones.
  • With the same level of ESOV, creatively awarded campaigns would have driven twice as much market share growth as non-awarded ones.
  • Creative awards strongly reflect consumer liking of ad campaigns. On average, 35% of consumers ranked Gunn awarded campaigns as 'highly liked' versus just 20% for non-Gunn awarded campaigns. Liking an ad is the best predictor of business success (source: 'Marketing in the Era of Accountability', IPA).

David Brennan, research and strategy director at Thinkbox: "It is tricky to take something intangible and subjective like creativity and show its tangible results, but by bringing these two world class award schemes together we have managed to do just that. We knew anecdotally that strong creativity leads to success, but to finally prove the link should be great news for advertisers and their agencies, and should hopefully help unlock more creativity and more success."

Neil Simpson, Chairman of the IPA Value of Advertising Group and CEO of Publicis said: "Each IPA Effectiveness Award competition has long provided succour to the creative community and creatively-minded clients when its awards have gone to such critically acclaimed advertisers such as Stella Artois, Levis and Honda. Their multiplier effects have also been discussed and written about by a number of Convenors of Judges. What we have now is the weight of eight years of statistical evidence and an exciting, and very tangible, set of findings to provide food for thought for all advertisers."

Peter Field, author of the new study: "It has been fascinating to do this analysis. We've seen a strong link in previous studies, but since Donald Gunn's 1996 report "Do Award Winning Commercials Sell?" we just haven't had an update on the numbers. The takeout from this report should be that creative campaigns are more effective when they have more, rather than less, budget put behind them; and that creativity helps drives long-term business success, providing a powerful antidote to the short-term nature of so much activity today."

These findings were shared to delegates at an event organised by Thinkbox on 16 June. A full report is being prepared by the IPA for publication over the summer.


Press contacts: Danielle Davies, IPA PR Manager, [email protected], 020 7201 8261 or Simon Tunstill, Head of PR, Thinkbox, [email protected], 020 7630 2326.


About the IPA

The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) is the trade body and professional institute for UK advertising, media and marketing communications agencies. It was established in 1917 as a servicing body and to negotiate on behalf of its members with media bodies, government departments and unions. Its 274 corporate members handle over 80% of the UK's advertising agency business which has an estimated value (excluding press and TV production) of £17.7 billion.

The IPA Effectiveness Awards, sponsored by Thinkbox, were established in 1980 to provide a record of advertising's effect on a client's bottom line. Since 1980 they have measured new effects, for example behavioural or city effects. Entries are in the form of 4,000 word case histories. This competition is regarded as the most rigorous and prestigious effectiveness competition in the world. The prizes are also decided upon by senior clients. For more information about the IPA Effectiveness Awards see

About Thinkbox

Thinkbox is the marketing body for commercial TV in the UK, in all its forms. Its shareholders are Channel 4, Five, GMTV, ITV, Sky Media and Turner Media Innovations, who together represent over 90% of commercial TV advertising revenue through their owned and partner TV channels. Thinkbox works with the marketing community with a single ambition: to help advertisers get the best out of today's TV.

TV today has more to offer advertisers than ever before, not least because this growing medium remains at the heart of popular culture and advertising effectiveness. From understanding how audiences engage with TV advertising, explaining innovative and affordable solutions, to providing the rigorous proof of effectiveness that advertisers need, Thinkbox is here to help customers meet their marketing objectives.

The Gunn Report