Cannes Lions managing director: A creative culture can drive business growth

Jose Papa
Source: Cannes Lions

By the time you read this the annual festival of creativity Cannes Lions will be underway and some of the most innovative, inspiring ideas of the past 12 months will be receiving well-deserved awards.

The Palais at Cannes is where the industry gathers to benchmark its work, learn from each other and applaud world-class creativity. It’s a chance to take a breather from the everyday demands of business and catch up with how the innovators in our industry are managing to fuse creativity, design and technology to come up with concepts that can shift the needle for business.

Did I say that creativity can drive business growth? Yes, I did. Creativity is a positive force for business, for change and for good. We often holler about the ‘good’ part and agencies have won numerous awards for work that is of societal benefit. But these triumphs should not overshadow the key business priorities of generating revenue and satisfying shareholders.

And we set out to prove this. Alongside McKinsey we developed the Award Creativity Score (ACS), an index based on Cannes Lions that weighed three factors: the total number of Lions won by each company between 2001 and 2016, with more points assigned for the most prestigious awards; the breadth of categories represented; and consistency over time, based on the number of years a company has been recognised as creative leader at the awards.

We found that creative leaders outperform peers on key financial metrics. In fact, of those with ACS scores in the top quartile, 67 per cent had above average organic revenue growth and 70 per cent had an above average total return to shareholders. These findings are fundamental in proving that creativity is associated with superior business performance.

Evidently, brands know creativity in the widest sense has an impact “in the real world”. It is key to loyalty and sales – and to surviving disruption. Brands represent around 24 per cent of Cannes Lions attendees and they come because they know the companies that are building for the future need a brave creative vision to drive customer engagement and avoid becoming mere commodities or background utilities.

We know that creatively-awarded campaigns are six times more efficient than non-awarded ones at driving market share growth (see the study Selling Creativity Short: Creativity and Effectiveness Under Threat). In fact, it used to be a greater multiple but short-term thinking and shareholder pressure has undermined some of this effectiveness. It’s up to the industry en masse to give marketers the ammunition they need to fight these pressures in the boardroom and there’s plenty of evidence to show investment in long-term brand building strategies pay off, such as The Long and The Short Of It.

Creativity should be seen as an investment with a huge role to play in greater business success and I look forward to the unveiling of this year’s “Creff” winners on Friday, as the festival nears its close.

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