Episode 15

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The Art of Creative Effectiveness

Kahlua, Heineken and Dettol took the leading spots in the most effective campaigns of the year. Ads were tested across 16 markets, 35 clients, 41 brands and 28 categories to get to this result.  

Katie Reiffenstein-Rimoldi, Global Marketing at Campari, joined Leigh de Klerk, Customer Success Manager to deep dive into what contributed to their success, how global brands ensure campaigns resonate across different markets, and some expert advice into how to achieve the ideal blend of creativity and effectiveness. 

Q: Kahlua, Heineken and Dettol have been highlighted for having some really impactful campaigns recently. What do you think are the commonalities and differences in their approaches that contributed to their great success? 

Katie: The first similarity between all three brands was around the emotional connection. The three campaigns were very much based on humor and tapping into emotional storytelling to really connect with consumers.  

They also shared very memorable creative, so very disruptive visually. They were quite quickly paced, particularly Kahlua and Heineken. They used really good audio and voiceover to really hook in the viewer.  

Then the differences, Dettol, for example, clearly had a lower budget, but it was still very memorable at the same time. Whereas Kahlua brought in Selma, I don't know how much they would have paid for that, but it would have been a pretty hefty price tag, I would imagine. And then Heineken on the other hand had quite large production and a heavier cast and editing, sort of post -production editing side of things.  

Dettol was very functional. Whereas Heineken was all about top-of-mind celebration and then Kahlua, I love that they're going after very specific drinking occasion, which is winning share from wine.  

Leigh: I really did see that they were strengthening that brand to consumer connection and memorability through emotion. Something that really stood out for me that was across all three campaigns is how they aimed to sort of tackle some current social issues in a really creative way, but also, having to align with their brand strategy. I think for Heineken and Kahlua both brands play on that sociability aspect and they're driving that strong emotional connection. It's a very immersive experience when you watch those ads that inject excitement.  

Consumers are becoming a little bit more conscious, and they're coming up with like a great solution to the problem. So entertaining at home, for one, how it can be a joyful experience, a treat.  

I think one thing I want to mention just very quickly about Heineken, when we look at the last few campaigns. One in particular stood out for me and it was the Cheers to All Fans campaign last year. They had a man and a woman and they secretly switched their social accounts. The results came back and basically confirmed that women still received, I think it was about five times more online abuse than men. 

Katie: I think they're just really brilliant with their with their ads. They always hit home for me. That aspect of playing on stereotypes has really benefited their creative, I think. One of the other ad campaigns that they did a few years ago was around the stereotype that women order cocktails and men always order beer. I think the brand really is very true to itself in a lot of its messaging and in a lot of its creative. 

Q: How do you think global brands ensure that their creative campaigns resonate across different markets and cultures and what role does creative testing play in this process? 

Leigh: Global marketing is striking that balance between consistency, but then also making sure that they're appealing to the diverse markets. To create sort of cultural connection, brands really need to focus on ensuring that their creative campaigns resonate across different markets and cultures.  

Cultural research is really key in this process, just to understand the nuances, making sure that they're factored into any kind of localized strategy itself. It's always a good idea to have a creative toolkit at hand, what I mean by toolkit is by collecting and really making use of data to help inform and drive those decisions going forward. 

Katie: In terms of how to really make creative campaigns resonate across various different markets, different cultures, the starting point of having a high-level campaign that's based off of a universal insight is super important. That can be something as broad as humor or it can be something narrower. I'll use Heineken as an example, the struggle to pronounce their name, to spell their name, taking light of themselves and the fact that different cultures may have issues pronouncing Heineken or saying their brand name correctly. So why don't we tap into that? Because it's a problem in Canada, in the Netherlands, in South Africa, in a diverse sort of range of different countries and cultures. They identified that and then ran with it for a campaign, which again is great because it is a good example of a global campaign that doesn't necessarily need to be adapted by market because within that campaign you can target a lot of your target markets right off the bat without having to adapt. 

But if you do need to adapt, it's really great for agencies and brands to have a deep understanding of various cultural nuances. It can be little creative adaptations in order to make them culturally relevant.  

Creative testing, so important. I don't really need to reiterate that, but doing A -B testing, testing across different markets to help identify those elements that do resonate best in order to allow for your campaign to be optimized is key. 

Q: Looking forward, what emerging trends in consumer behavior, which fits quite nicely with this, actually, do you think will shape the future of creative marketing campaigns? And how do you think brands should adapt to these trends or prepare to adapt? 

Leigh: Putting the customer at the heart of every decision, really important. A lot of the work that I've done to date is shaping omnichannel experiences, making sure that everything is personalized. Everything is driven off data. That really helps to ensure that you're getting the right message to the right person and the right context as well. 

Some of the challenges are around consolidating that experience, particularly with some of the massive global organizations. It can be really tricky to get ahead of that single customer view that can help activate some of that customer centric activations.  

The market is changing, consumers are changing, everything is topsy -turvy, a little bit upside down. But again, I think being able to experiment and be brave with introducing new sort of innovations to the process and trying to really push the boundaries to remain competitive is going to be really important. 

Katie: I have narrowed this down to four particular trends that I think are relevant for all brands. The first one is premiumization. It's less about quantity and more about quality. It's important to find the balance in your creative around producing something for mass versus producing something for luxury, but always having a bit of that luxury lens applied to your creative in order to bring you into that more premiumization space where all the brands are going. 

The second one is around personalization. I love getting an email from Gucci saying happy birthday, we're thinking about you and it makes you feel seen and heard by that brand. I actually led gifting and brand experience for Diageo's Reserve portfolio when I was living back in Amsterdam and personalization was a big aspect of this. 

The third trend is all around experiences. Millennials and Gen Zs are wanting to spend their money on experience versus product. So how can brands tap into making their brands and products more experiential focused?  

Then lastly, big trend, AI. I mean, everyone's talking about it as we know, but in terms of like creating marketing campaigns, how can we lean into AI as a creative generator and not something to be feared or something to push away.  

Leigh: L'Oréal did a really, really great sort of concept project where it relied heavily on the data that they captured so that they could personalize. They created an environment that you could tell a little bit about yourself, your skin type, complexion, preferences in color. What it would do then is it would create a profile of yourself. Then it makes recommendations as to which styles, colors, and things align more to your preferences or skin tone or complexion. What was really brilliant about L'Oréal is that they introduced this, obviously mass audience, as a TV ad with a QR code at the end that you could scan the QR code, which then links straight through to the form to talk about yourself, which then you can either get an email or personalized experience if you go onto the e –com website and I just thought that was really, really clever, a great way of using first party data and a personalized experience. 

Q: What advice would you give to brands looking to achieve the perfect blend of creativity and effectiveness in their campaigns? 

Katie: The first thing I want to mention is being consumer first and brand second. I think that brand teams are very inclined because they love their brands, they live them, breathe them day in, day out. I think that what ends up happening though is you become a little bit numb to who you're actually marketing your brand too. This is such a simple tip, but consumer centricity is everything and it should be at the forefront of all the creative campaigns that are created. 

The second is around authenticity and being really, really true to your brand. I wanted to touch upon a bad example of this, which is that good old Pepsi commercial with Kendall Jenner. 

The third piece of advice is around disruption through the line. A good example of a disruptive brand now is Jacquemus. They're a luxury fashion brand, a French brand, and they are so edgy, so cool.  

And then also, channel considerations. So not necessarily just leaning into ATL anymore, but also really considering the line. So how does your ATL and BTL play together? What's your consumer journey? What's the full funnel? And also, of course, leaning into proximity media and different things that will really sort of close that consumer journey in essence.  

Leigh: Just to bring it back to the ultimate goal is whether or not audiences are going to find that content or that ad or that campaign memorable. We know that memorability is powered by emotion and emotion can lead to connection. Connection can then lead to loyalty. 

A lot of the campaigns we've spoken about today, some of the Kahlua campaigns, going back looking at some of the Heineken campaigns, they all completely resonate. They are all hitting that emotion button where you're either feeling joy or you're feeling safe or you're feeling excited.  

In order to get there a lot of the things we spoke about is just being very considered of your audience. What data do we have? How do we personalize? How do we use those insights to really structure our communication strategy in a more sort of fluid and relevant way? Coming back to innovation and continuous experimentation. The outcome is massive in terms of competitive positioning for brands. I think continue a cycle, experiment, watch, learn, pivot, launch, monitor, and then optimize. And the cycle continues. 


There is so much more to this episode. Katie and Leigh shared more thoughts about creative effectiveness, some brands they admire, and even some brands that are getting it wrong. 

A fantastic insight-driven chat that shouldn’t be missed, watch it in full above!

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