WARC, the global authority on advertising and media effectiveness, has today released the Effective Innovation Report 2018, highlighting key trends of the world's most original marketing thinking.
Drawn from the winners of the Effective Innovation category of this year's international WARC Awards, a global search for next-generation marketing effectiveness, the report showcases innovative thinking that has transformed a business or disrupted category conventions to deliver tangible results.
WARC's Lucy Aitken, Managing Editor, Case Studies, comments: "Following our analysis of the metadata around all the entries, we see that despite the considerable challenges presented by innovation, it is an increasingly popular and effective way for brands to grow."
WARC's Effective Innovation Report highlights four key trends that provide valuable lessons to the advertising industry of marketing innovation that works:
Innovation that appeals to influencers
Many of the top-performing campaigns were designed with sharing among millennial influencers in mind to improve organic reach via their personal networks.
"Persuading these communities to invest their influence on your behalf is an acid test of a marketing team's preparation and ingenuity", comments jury chair Christopher Yu, VP Integrated Marketing Strategy, Innovation, and Technology, U.S. Bank.
Campaigns that disrupted received ideas of how to engage millennials and the value of doing so include: Grand Prix winner '7-Second Resumes' for the Ad Council by 22squared, USA; 'Denmark vs. Trump' for Danish political party Socialistisk Folkeparti by UncleGrey; and BBC Asian Network's campaign '100% Asian. 100% British' by MullenLowe London.
"Each demonstrated a clear grasp of Gen Y's digitally native expectations without indulging in technical showboating", added Yu.
Innovation that builds brand equity
Innovation can be an efficient and effective way to build and strengthen a brand's appeal by problem-solving, bringing the brand closer to its purpose.
"Innovation is not about the wacky or the weird, but instead should come from context and build brand equity," says jury member Kate Smither, Chief Strategy Integration Officer, Publicis Communications Australia.
"Innovation is fast becoming a tool modern marketing can use to build brands from equity out, not from technology in," continued Smither.
Stand out campaigns that used brand-led innovation to build brand equity, demonstrating to consumers how they could fulfil their promise or purpose include: 'Odds' for adidas by Taproot India; Pril's 'One-Drop Bottle' and Nissan's 'Camelpower' both by TBWA\RAAD, UAE.
Product-led innovation that drives growth
Innovating thorough products is a popular way for brands to strengthen their appeal and stand-out to attract new customers.
"This year's winners show how changing your product can drive growth and bring new customers to your brand. Instead of only looking to change other people's behaviour, perhaps we should first change our own," observes jury member Joseph Smeaton, Planning Director, DDB Sydney.
Saregama's 'Carvaan' for older Indian consumers by The Womb, and Royal Caribbean's 'Seek Deeper' by MullenLowe US, that stimulated demand for cruises among a younger crowd by using Snapchat spectacles are good examples.
Utility that helps build connections
Brands benefitted from being 'in service' to their audiences through the creation of useful tools, products and services as opposed to traditional campaigns.
"By starting from a perspective of utility, by being in the service of others, you can reach new audiences, find new relevancy and change perceptions," says juror Howard Pull, Strategic Development Director, MullenLowe Profero.
He cites IDFC's 'Bank in a Box' by McCann Worldgroup as a stellar example of brand utility that helped build connections.
A sample of WARC's Effective Innovation Report 2018 can be downloaded on here. The report in full is available to WARC subscribers here and includes chapter analysis with views and opinions from the judges, as well as summaries - objectives, insights, strategies and results - of the winning case studies.
Now in their third year, the WARC Awards 2019 will open in November 2018. Free to enter, there is a $40,000 prize fund for the winning papers. View on https://www.warc.com/warcawards.prize for more information.