The Case For Creativity

By - CTL
May 13, 2016

For the upcoming 2016 edition of my book The Case for Creativity, I took time to reflect on three years of studying the Cases for Creativity – those campaigns that have won both a gold Cannes Lion for creativity and a gold Effie award for effectiveness. They’re the high watermark of achievement in our industry, and if we are to learn from any campaigns, it should surely be these.One theme among the 33 Cases for Creativity from 2012-2014 was conspicuously clear. Ideas that get shared socially are the ones that are winning big in terms of both effectiveness and creativity. This remains the case, and impressively, Coca Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’ (one of last year’s Cases for Creativity) picked up yet another gold Effie in 2015 – in the US, the fifth market to afford this most share-worthy of campaigns an effectiveness gold. Peter Field’s work based on merging the Gunn Report databank with the IPA databank has conclusively showed the correlation between ‘fame’ campaigns and the best business results, and the Cases for Creativity resoundingly corroborate his finding.So what kind of campaigns tend to be shared? There were two distinct groups. Firstly, campaigns that put the brand in the service of a social cause or purpose. The trend of brands seeking to do some good in the world. Secondly, creative efforts that were ‘actions’ more than ‘words’. The trend of brands saying less and doing more.

Both of these trends play out strongly in the most creative and effective work, and this year’s Cases for Creativity prove that these drivers of effectiveness are still absolutely key.

Eight of this year’s campaigns continued the growing inclination of brands to tackle social issues. With #LikeAGirl, P&G’s Always brand challenged subconscious sexism. With ‘I Will What I Want’, Under Armour implored women to will their way through prejudices. With ‘Inglorious Fruits & Vegetables’, Intermarché created an alternative to wasteful food practices. OPSM invented an ingenious way for parents to keep an eye on their children’s’ eyesight with ‘Polly the Pirate’. Vodafone’s ‘Red Light App’ gave victims of family violence a new cry for help. Chipotle continued to rally against cruel farming practices with ‘The Scarecrow’. And Honey Maid took a stand for America’s untraditional families, championing them as every bit as wholesome.

Four more of this year’s list were charity or not-for-profit campaigns – and brilliant ones – but the for-profit work demonstrates the awesome power of creativity to address social issues and generate commercial returns at the same time. This is increasingly looking like the benchmark in modern brand marketing.

In aiming toward that benchmark, brands are being ever-more inventive. Traditional campaigns – communications messages within mass media – are featuring less and less in the various ‘most effective’ lists. Smart brands continue to say less and do more.

Intermarché invented an entirely new segment in the fruit & vegetable category. OPSM invented a new way to test kids’ eyesight. Vodafone invented a new way to call for help. With ‘Kan Khajura Tesan’, Unilever invented a gigantic new media platform. With ‘Rice Code’, Inakadate Village invented a transformational new way to grow rice. With ‘The Salt You Can See’, Fundación Favaloro invented a way for Argentines to more easily moderate their salt intake. In so many cases, actions continue to speak louder than words.

2015 gave us 17 Cases for Creativity. Back in 2012 there were just 9. In 2013 and 2014, there were 12 apiece. Creativity’s effectiveness is growing over time, and I hope these new cases spur you on to create even more creative and effective work in 2016.

Thanks as always to David Tiltman and the team at Warc for their good doing helping identify the winning papers.

The 2015 Cases for Creativity are:

  • “#LikeAGirl” for Always by Leo Burnett Toronto, London & Chicago
  • “Abla Fahita” for CBC by J. Walter Thompson Cairo, Egypt
  • “Bald Cartoons” for GRAACC by Ogilvy São Paulo, Brazil
  • “Give Mom Back Her Name” for UN Women by Impact BBDO Dubai,
    United Arab Emirates
  • “Greatness Awaits” for Sony Playstation by BBH New York, USA
  • “I Will What I Want” for Under Armour by Droga5 New York, USA
  • “If We Made It” for Newcastle Brown Ale by Droga5 New York, USA
  • “Inglorious Fruits & Vegetables” for Intermarché by Marcel Paris, France
  • “Kan Khajura Tesan” for Unilever by MullenLowe Group, Mumbai
  • “Not A Bug Splat” for Reprieve Foundation by BBDO Lahore, Pakistan
  • “Penny The Pirate” for OPSM by Saatchi & Saatchi Sydney, Australia
  • “Between Us Red Light App” for Vodafone by Y&R Team Red Istanbul, Turkey
  • “Rice Code” for Inakadate Village by Hakuhodo Tokyo, Japan
  • “Smellcome To Manhood” for Old Spice by Wieden+Kennedy Portland, USA
  • “The Salt You Can See” for Fundacion Favaloro by Grey Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • “The Scarecrow” for Chipotle by Creative Artists Agency Los Angeles, USA
  • “This Is Wholesome” for Honey Maid by Droga5 New York, USA

– James Hurman


About James Hurman

James Hurman is a New Zealander who spent the majority of his career as a strategic planner in the advertising industry. In 2013 he was named the world’s #1 planning director by the Big Won Report, following many years as head of planning at Auckland agency Colenso BBDO. Equally passionate about creativity and effectiveness, James’ work has won 20 Cannes Lions and more than 50 effectiveness awards.

James is the author of The Case for Creativity, a book about the link between creativity and effectiveness in advertising. The book was first released in 2011, and an updated edition will be published by Cannes Lions Festivals in 2016.

In 2014 James left the advertising industry to found innovation consultancy Previously Unavailable. He lives in Auckland with his wife and children.

He can be contacted at

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