New Report Reveals Crisis in Creative Effectiveness

We like to think that every creative execution hits right on target. Well, we know better even when we don’t like to admit it. A recent report from the UK, suggests quite the opposite, that creative effectiveness is being called into question.

UK advertising agencies are fast-paced, dynamic and produce advertising, media and marketing that many consider to be the envy of the world.  One organization that voices their concerns, showcases their work and continuously develops their skills to keep them at the top of their game is the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), incorporated by Royal Charter.

The IPA exists to help members be the best they can be. They set the protocols for the UK industry’s best practice standards. They advise on how to choose an agency, how to run an agency or how to behave if you work in an agency. They also work collaboratively with members to improve diversity within the industry.

So, as this new report makes the rounds of the British ad scene, it will be interesting to see what the reaction is. It will, I dare say, be interesting to watch what, if any, reaction there is here in the US. If anything, the US has always been much more conservative in our approach to advertising compared to the UK. Does that conservatism mean our ads are more effective than theirs. Doubtful. It’s sort of like comparing apples and oranges.

Selling Creativity Short: Creativity and effectiveness under threat

Peter Field’s latest investigation into the IPA’s databank of Effectiveness Award case studies and The Gunn Report creative awards dataset reveals five key trends:


1. Budget investment behind creativity has fallen sharply. The average real campaign budget has fallen, with creatively-awarded campaigns hardest hit. They are below market share maintenance levels.

2. Short-termism is undermining effectiveness. There has been a dramatic increase in the evaluation of IPA campaigns over six months or less – up by four times over a decade ago. This is bad for effectiveness and bad for brands. Creatively awarded campaigns are even more strongly affected: almost half of them are now short-term.

3. Cross-channel, digital creativity is not an answer to short-termism. Creative campaigns designed to work across the analogue/digital divide improve short-term results, but need more time to achieve their full potential and do not offset reduced budgets. Greater effectiveness comes from being put to work over the longer term.

4. The achievement of fame is in decline. Record low budgets and the shift to the short term have impacted the buzz around brands, meaning fame effects of creatively awarded campaigns have fallen for the first time in 20 years.

5. TV: The primary driver of creative success. An idea working creatively on TV appears to be at the heart of the most effective campaigns. This doesn’t appear to be abating anytime soon.


One main ingredient of successful campaigns that’s missing here is the idea. There’s no mention of it. A creative campaign can mean very different things to different people. Creativity also effects people, consumers, in many different ways.

An idea, though has to be at the center of any creative campaign. Execution is one thing; a good idea can be totally screwed up by poor execution. If the message does not clearly resonate with its audience, the “creative” ad will fall flat.

Even though American advertising tends to be more conservative than the British ones, the American scene still appears to rank high on the infamous “stupidity index.” It’s as if we think the more we shout, dance or put on a highly choreographed number, the attention for which it strives will guarantee success.

It won’t. At least, not in the way it should. The ad may increase awareness of the product, but not necessarily in sales. However, this may very well be the objective of the ad, regardless of how stupid it is.

To further the effectiveness conversation, leaders from the world’s foremost brands and twenty international industry associations are to host Effectiveness Week, spearheaded by the IPA. The collaborative program, from 15 to 18 October, will focus on championing evidence-based, decision-making to fuel the growth of brands. Find out more at

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