The 5 habits of highly effective advertisers

Kantar’s Creative Effectiveness Awards reveals the world’s most effective ads in 2020, and what makes them great.
Creative Effectiveness Awards
Martin Guo 2015

Editor in Chief, Kantar China Insights, China

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At Kantar, we love great creative content, and we love it even more when that creativity is harnessed to deliver against brand and marketing objectives. Each year we test over 10,000 ads for our clients around the world with Link, an independently validated solution. Each year we learn more about winning ads and the ingredients for success.

Kantar’s Creative Effectiveness Awards recognise the best TV and digital ads from around the world – as judged by consumers. They celebrate great advertising that drives sales in the short term and equity in the long term. While we recognise that not all ads seek to do both, our approach provides a framework for assessment and recognises the power of creative to build brands, not just activate sales.

An exceptional year

2020 was a year like no other, and our work showed that people wanted advertising to continue, as it provided a sense of normality at a time of 24-hour COVID-19 news cycles. For the most part, consumers were processing content in the same way during the pandemic as they did before. Advertisers that held their resolve and invested in their brand during the downturn saw their bravery rewarded.

Revealed: the most creative and effective ads of 2020
This year we saw some amazing ads that are both creative and effective. Our winners come from a diverse range of brands, categories and countries, and use many different tactics in their creativity. What they share in common is a commitment to creative excellence and a focus on ensuring their work performs exactly as intended.

Consumers rated Heineken’s ‘Cheers to all’, the world’s most creatively effective ad for 2020. In this ad, Heineken, addresses gender-related drinks stereotypes in a way that is light-hearted rather than preachy or self-righteous and for that reason is loved by viewers.

Have a look at the great ads that consumers ranked in our top 20 from around the world in 2020. Congratulations to all our winners.


The 5 habits of highly effective advertisers

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to creative and effective advertising – we observed five habits from our winners that ensure their advertising will deliver for their brand, in both the short and long term. These can act as guidelines for all advertisers.

1. Be distinctive
Create the ability to be noticed and remembered in a world where there’s a profusion of ads. Your ad is not just competing in its category. It is competing for attention against the world. Stand out from the category as a minimum, and ideally from any other advertising.

2. Brand intrinsically
Make sure that the attention won by the ad is in the service of the brand. Ensure the brand is at the heart of your creative or get your branding cues right. A surprising number of brands forget this.

3. Be meaningfully different
To grow market share or defend premium pricing you need to show how your brand fulfils consumers’ functional, emotional and social needs in the category AND illustrates your uniqueness compared to the competition.

4. Trigger an emotional response
Making the viewer feel something wins engagement for the ad, bypassing the natural tendency to screen out advertising. It also has positive effects on the brand’s emotional associations.

5. Talk with your consumers
Successful marketers know they can get ‘too close’ to their brand and lose perspective, so they listen to viewer feedback throughout the creative development process and refine their ads accordingly.

Get your recipe right

As well as great habits, we noted many creative devices, or ingredients used effectively by our 2020 winners. Some of our winning ads tackle diversity or challenge gender stereotypes (and we know progressive ads drive greater ROI), others use celebrity creatively, some nailed humour during challenging times – and much more.

Find out more about the winning ads, and download our complementary booklet, ‘The 5 habits of highly effective advertisers’, to discover more about the winning tactics and habits.

About Link

Kantar’s Link solution is the world’s most trusted ad testing solution, having been independently validated and used over 215,000 times. It offers predictive and diagnostic measures to guide ad optimisation to maximise that ROI. It is available on Kantar Marketplace, so ads can be tested with confidence in as few as six hours.
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Grow your brand with extraordinary creative. Know how your advert will perform, and how to improve it to maximise ROI.
Kantar Creativity Effectiveness Award image
Kantar Creative Effectiveness Awards
Kantar’s Creative Effectiveness Awards recognise the best TV and digital ads globally – as judged by consumers.
Find out more