Lessons brands can learn from the winners of Kantar's Creative Effectiveness Awards
These advertisements were ranked on the basis of their ability to create short-term sales lift and contribution to brand’s equity
Kantar tested more than 10,000 creatives for clients around the world
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Lessons brands can learn from the winners of Kantar's Creative Effectiveness Awards

Kantar tested more than 10,000 creatives for clients around the world
  • Yesterday, Kantar revealed the five best advertisements from India that were most creative and effective in 2020.
  • We spoke to Soumya Mohanty, Managing Director- Client and Quantitative, Insights Division at Kantar and Prasanna Kumar, Head of Creative - South Asia, Insight Division, Kantar to learn what approach works best for the brands in India in their advertisements, how has consumer behavior changed during the pandemic and how did brands shift their advertising strategies, how should they communicate with consumers in the new normal and much more.
Kantar’s Creative Effectiveness Awards yesterday revealed that brands that were consistent with their communication in 2020, got their localisation right, integrated their brand role well into their advertisement -- were able to connect with consumers in 2020.

Throughout 2020, Kantar tested more than 10,000 creatives for clients around the world. 1000+ of those creatives were tested in India.

Here are the Kantar Creative Effectiveness Awards 2021 India Winners:

Award Category:Corporate:Brand:Creative Agency:Creative:Channel:
Personal CareHindustan UnileverCloseupMullen LoweBedsheetTV
DurablesBSH Home Appliances Corp Bosch Home AppliancesJung von Matt, GermanySustainabilityTV
Foods & BeveragesKellogg IndiaKellogg IndiaOgilvyEk ChamachTV
Home CareHindustan UnileverSurf Excel Quick WashLowe LintasSurf excel Olsen VadaTV
DigitalBeam Global Spirits & WineOaksmith GoldPublicisTeppanyakiDigital

These advertisements were ranked on the basis of their ability to create short-term sales lift and contribution to brand’s equity.

We spoke to Soumya Mohanty, Managing Director- Client and Quantitative, Insights Division at Kantar and Prasanna Kumar, Head of Creative - South Asia, Insight Division at Kantar to learn more about the commonalities in Indian and global advertisements in 2020, lessons brands can learn from the winners, and how should brands communicate with consumers as we approach normalcy.

Speaking about the reasons why these five advertisements did well, Mohanty said, “One big common theme is that they all have a very strong functional benefit ie, these brands gave you a very strong reason why you should buy the product. It's not storytelling just for the sake of it. Secondly, consumers reward consistency. So, many ads that tend to follow a similar pattern or have a strong, same consumer insight and only the expressions of it change -- tend to be rewarded by consumers. So if you see Closeup’s advertising or Surf’s advertising, it's the same, strong, relevant consumer insight. And they have an emotional core to it. The expressions keep changing, but it's built around one insight.”

Shedding more light on what ingredients brands need to make their advertisement both creative and effective, Kumar added, “All these ads had a strong intent to go native. You could have category insight which is universal but if you find a localised expression in that, in terms of the background, protagonist, etc, it amplifies the impact. Secondly, product windows can be really wonderfully creative and memorable. And they help not just in engaging consumers, but leaving behind whatever they want to communicate about the brand. All winning ads had a good product window. People love to know how the brand would impact their lives: what does the product do for me, that needs to be always clear. Apart from that, ads should be joyful for the consumer, creator, and at the same time, be able to push brand’s sales. Otherwise, it is just entertainment and doesn't really help the brand. So if you're able to integrate your functionality, what the brand can do for the consumer in the execution, then you have a completely solid, winning ad.”

Last year, India was in the midst of one of the worst calamities we have faced in recent times. Our country’s healthcare system crippled and our frontline workers continue to be under tremendous pressure till date. Businesses of all sizes were trying to make sense of the new normal and how to keep their employees safe. With the nation-wide lockdown, consumers’ mental health was also impacted because they were living in constant fear of contracting the virus, dealing with isolation blues and worried about losing their jobs. As a result, many brands pivoted their marketing strategy. They were telling consumers how to take care of themselves better or using their communication tools to spread a message of togetherness.

Kantar’s study observed that during 2020’s COVID crisis, ads started following a templated communication. Most focused on being ‘together’ in ‘unprecedented’ times and showcased brands as ‘Corona Warriors’ in different ways. Whether this connected with consumers or not is arguable, but they all definitely looked quite similar.

On the other hand, many brands chose silence and decided to take a break from advertising. On that strategy, Mohanty said, “We have consistently said that going dark doesn't work because in India, salience is a very big pillar of brand equity. People have to remember you as a brand. And especially in fragmented categories. Going dark doesn't make any sense unless you back it up with a strong reason.”

Some brands also chose to focus on the fact that consumers still need products and services to survive and continued advertising like nothing had changed. At the same time, these ads reminded us of the good, old days and served as a great escape from the grim reality.

On whether brands should choose an empathetic or pragmatic approach, Mohanty said brands should stick to their ethos and be honest with consumers.


Highlighting why it is important for brands to not deviate from their marketing strategy even during adverse times, Mohanty said, “If you are a compassionate and generous brand, if that's the ethos of your brand, then it goes very well. Beverages, snacking or chocolate brands, are not really known for taking a compassionate route in their advertisements. They are more about fun and functionality. For these types of brands, it's better to keep it simple, realistic and pragmatic, because what the consumer wants to know is how you can help me and that is also compassion in itself. Compassion doesn't mean announcing your donation amount through advertisements, it's also about conveying 'I'm there for you the way I have always been.'”

All the winners on Kantar’s Creative Effectiveness list are traditional brands that have invested a lot in brand equity and trust-building. They have advertised consistently, over the years, to keep in touch with their consumers. Mohanty also said that it is important for brands to stay on top of consumers' minds now more than ever because when consumers do step out, they will not browse. They will step with a list and agenda in mind. Investing in trust and focusing on long-term goals is therefore important.

She said, “The offline browsing time has reduced. Consumers are looking for familiar brands, logos and packs. So, it is important to remain salient, and it's important to be trustworthy. So these big, trustworthy brands have an advantage at this moment in time. And investing in trust, therefore, is going to be critical. Going forward, when consumers look for reassurance, they will look for familiarity. Apart from that, there are multiple ways in which you can build trust, advertising is only one part of it. Advertising’s main job is to create intention to buy, to break the clutter and help my brand in the long run. It depends on overall brand experience.”

On a global level, Mohanty pointed out that there were more common themes than differences in advertising. She shared, “Consistency pays across the world. Good storytelling, emotion, and heartwarming stories also work across the world.”

However, there was one stark difference in Indian and global ads. Across the world, there is a larger conversation on inclusion, diversity and equity. Most ads listed on Kantar’s best global creative effective list were about inclusion or had equal representation in their ads.

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On these differences, Mohanty said, “Inclusive ads or breaking stereotypes ads -- it's a lot more amplified in the global rankings. Global ads are really all about inclusion, whether it's gender or it is race. Now, in India, there is no ad that overtly conveys a message of inclusion and you have seen what happened with Tanishq last year. So in that sense, it's a slightly more dicey area. Another difference in global vs Indian ads is that their sense of humour is different than ours. Indians are quite okay with humour generally but in the context of COVID-19, there are a lot more ads outside India that have worked well. Burger King does it all the time. In India, consumers are not as comfortable with humour context of COVID-19. Unless, of course, you are a brand that is known to do things humorously like a Fevicol or Amul.”

As India starts unlocking and brands look to connect with consumers again, Mohanty shared important piece of advice that brands should keep in mind.

“Come back in a big way. You have to create demand for your category. We saw a lot of pent up demand last year in the fourth quarter but this time, we don't know if there’s going to be a pent up demand because there has been an impact on consumers’ finances. They are going to reprioritize what they are going to buy. And therefore, if you are an advertiser, you just have to be out there and tell the consumer why they should buy you. You should romance your category, romance your product, create demand, because there is no hidden demand as well this time that will come out and help you meet whatever your annual numbers are unless you invest now. This is very important across the category, even for the ones that are not getting used right now for example travel. If you don’t start advertising now, you will fall off your consumer’s radar. Start now or it will be too late,” shared Mohanty.

Kantar’s Creative Effectiveness report also listed five habits that the most effective advertisers follow across the world, which can come handy as we start resuming normalcy:

  • 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.
  • Brand intrinsically: Make sure that the attention won by the ad is at the service of the brand. Get your branding cues right. A surprising number of companies forget this basic rule.
  • Be meaningfully different: To grow market share or defend premium pricing you need to fulfil consumers’ functional, emotional and social needs in the category AND illustrate your uniqueness compared to the competition.
  • 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.
  • Talk with your consumer: Successful marketers know they can get ‘too close’ to their creative journey and lose perspective, so they listen to viewer feedback during creative development.