Five Insights from the Superyacht (not)

On Friday 19th July System1 hosted its first Not On A Superyacht event – three of the best presentations from the Cannes festival. No glamour, no sunshine, no celebrities… but plenty of insight.

Here are the five big takeaways from the afternoon for us.

The fashion for short-termism is killing effectiveness

Consultant Peter Field presented his work on “Creativity In Crisis”, using the IPA Database. The single-most quoted statistic in his work has always been the “creativity multiplier” – the boost in effectiveness you get from a creatively awarded ad. Creative directors love it because it proves the value of what they do. Trouble is, the multiplier has collapsed – from 10x effectiveness to only 3x. Effectiveness is being destroyed, and short-term thinking is to blame, rewarding tactical and promotional work over strategic, brand-building campaigns.

Learn from high-performing, effective work

Field’s analysis isn’t all gloomy – within the data there’s a group of truly effective high performing campaigns? What do they have in common? They set long-term goals. They divert less of their budget to activation spending. And they spend a higher proportion on broad-reach media, like TV and online video.

Brand growth comes from Fame, Feeling and Fluency

John Kearon of System1 talked about their work testing a decade’s worth of Cannes Film winners – Gold Lions and Grand Prix ads. He had a lesson for marketers – they’re measuring the wrong stuff. The focus needs to be on Fame, Feeling and Fluency – the three mental shortcuts people use when they decide what to buy. Brands build Fame by spending money on ads that reach new customers. They create Fluency by using distinctive assets and memorable characters. And they drive Feeling with strong storytelling, great music and positive emotion.

Don’t trust the juries, trust the people

System1’s Star Ratings predict long-term effectiveness. The good news for marketers is that award-winning work has a far higher chance of scoring 3-, 4- or 5-Stars than average ads. But when you split out Gold Lions winners from the top, Grand Prix winning ads, the Grand Prix ads do worse. 8 times out of 10 this decade, juries failed to pick the top-scoring ad. 1-Star award winners often rely on brilliant craft, edgy humour or short-term shock value – making them perfect for the adland in-crowd, but poor when it comes to landing effectively with the public and growing brands.

Information is not enough

Finally, Nir Wegrsyn from Brand Opus talked about the “paradox of branding” – the need for brands to balance instant recognition and understanding with the fact that people tune out “sameness” and like brands to shake up their category codes. Brands try to push information – but the brain simply ignores most of what it receives. Information is never enough – you need emotional impact. The same goes for marketers, of course, and sometimes all the data in the world can’t give you what you need.

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