Cannes Lions Film winners in 2019 are least effective of past decade

New York Times: took Film Grand Prix
New York Times: took Film Grand Prix

UK agencies may have missed the mark at this year's Cannes, but it seems they're not the only ones.

This year’s Film winners at the Cannes Lions were the least effective ads to win at the festival in the past decade, according to research by System1.

The data, which analysed all work that has won Grand Prix or gold in the Film category since 2010, found the majority of 2019's winning ads have prioritised short-term sales boost over long-term brand growth, bringing their overall effectiveness into question. 

Using Ad Ratings, an independently validated platform that gauges the emotional response of viewers to predict short- and long-term growth potential on a scale of one to five stars, the study found that five 2019 gold-winning ads scored just one star, resulting in 0% predicted brand growth.

The five films that scored one star are: Bodyform "Viva la vulva", Apple "Apple at work: the underdogs", Old Spice "The endless ad", Burger King "BK bot" and the Grand Prix-winning New York Times "The truth is worth it". 

Despite having virtually no long-term impact, System1’s data found that the Burger King and New York Times campaigns received high scores on likely short-term sales effects.

John Kearon, chief executive of System1, said: "Industry bodies like the IPA have been warning of short-termism for years and these results show it in action. Juries are increasingly ignoring brand-building communication and rewarding instant impact. In the real world, stunts and shock tactics don’t drive long-term growth."

The highest scorers from this year are John Lewis & Partners "The boy and the piano" and Nike "Dream crazy" – both of which received three stars (equivalent to 1% predicted brand growth).

However, nothing from this year’s Film list reached the heights of last year’s Grand Prix winner, Tide’s Super Bowl spot "It’s a Tide ad", which bagged a maximum five-star rating, meaning 3% or more predicted growth.

Kearon continued: "Brands shouldn’t have to choose between long- and short-term growth. By creating emotionally stimulating ads with a well-framed narrative that create intense feelings and brand recognition, brands can achieve both."

System1 found a record of underachievement among Grand Prix winners when tested on members of the public, with half of all winners since 2010 achieving just one star on the company’s benchmarking tool.

The data also revealed that awarded ads were overall eight times more likely to achieve five stars, highlighting that the 2019 winners were "particularly poor for emotional consumer engagement".

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