If you’re above the age of 30 – whether you’re in the advertising industry or not – you’ll probably remember some sensational ads on the TV, on posters around the city and in the national press.

People actually used to say they’d rather watch the ads on TV than watch the actual programmes – THAT’S how good they were. The president of the marketing company Yankelovich, Jay Walker-Smith, claimed in 2006 that the average person was exposed to 5,000 advertisements per day, which is ten times more than they were in the 1970s. This is in part due to the advent of digital and the ‘perceived’ need for fast-moving content. I say perceived, because not everyone wants ‘fast-moving’, but would rather feel engaged as opposed to ‘sold-to’.

Red Crow Marketing, Inc. estimates that the number of ads seen per person per day is currently between 4,000 and 10,000. Not surprising with pretty much everything is surrounded by an ad of some sort in the digital space. With so many distractions, it’s crucial to know if an advertisement will be remembered and, more importantly, if it will generate the intended response.
‘Effectiveness’ is the ultimate goal, and the marketing world as a whole agrees. This, however, isn’t simply referring to an advertisement’s click-throughs, it also refers to how well an ad serves its intended purpose – raising recognition of a brand, boost leads, or convert existing demand, for example. This is where creativity comes in and how effectiveness of that creativity, its strategic support and its ability to target accurately, plays a part in exponentially improving an ad’s engagement, recall and response.

As one of the most dynamic areas of marketing, B2B is increasing momentum in the wider economy. Ten of the world’s largest companies focus on business-to-business marketing. B2B digital advertising spending has more than doubled since 2017 and is growing at a rate of 23% annually, according to research from eMarketer.

The B2B Effectiveness Code

In conjunction with WARC and LIONS. The B2B Institute published a White Paper ‘The B2B Effectiveness Code’. The White Paper’s backbone is The B2B Effectiveness Ladder; it provides a concrete framework for assessing progress toward objectives. This ‘ladder’ consists of six tiers, from the least to the most commercially significant.


Leading marketing effectiveness expert James Hurman, together with Peter Field (the pair who developed the Effectiveness Code framework for B2C marketing), combed through 435 case studies submitted to the WARC and LIONS effectiveness databases between 2010 and 2021 to draw conclusions for this analysis.

It shows that the marketing sector’s knowledge of how to create long-term value through B2B marketing is ‘patchy’, at best. “B2B marketers are often seen as sales enablers,” says David Tiltman, VP of Content at WARC and a world authority on marketing effectiveness research. “Marketing in the B2B space could do a lot more than to simply support the sales function – it should be looking to drive strategic growth and searching for the best ways to facilitate this.”

The B2B Effectiveness Code seeks to codify what B2B effectiveness looks like to explain how it relates to creativity. In turn, this is meant to decipher the precise commitments required to make marketing creativity a growth driver, one that contributes to long-term success, and assist B2B marketers in delivering on the ‘more’ that Tiltman describes.

Creative Commitment

The B2B Institute found that the three most important things for B2B marketers to do to promote effectiveness, are to increase the length of the advertising commitment, the number of media channels used, and to keep spending steady rather than cut back. ‘Creative Commitment’ is the sum of these facets. In contrast to this ideal, the research suggest that present day B2B marketers are doing almost is anything but, which is particularly worrying in a time of uncertainty, and when marketing departments should be ‘upping their game’.


Why Insight Matters

It’s not as simple as pumping more money into a campaign and hoping for better results. Specifically, Hurman and Field stated in their B2C version of the Creative Commitment study:

“Creative commitment is an amplifier of robust strategy and media planning – not a replacement for them.”

Human and Field examined award-winning campaigns for their study. They assessed advertisements that lacked proper planning and strategy. From this, they hypothesized that these would still be ineffective even with extremely high levels of creative commitment. Truly excellent and effective campaigns are built on astute observations. Effectiveness is attained by developing a complete understanding of the market, developing a creative campaign that feeds into this understanding, and then fully supporting it. Below is an example of great insight and commitment which resulted in creative effectiveness.

Snickers. “You’re not you…”

According to Charlotte Williams, Vice President of content for Cannes Lions, ‘You’re not you…’, which is based on the widely accepted human truth that going without food can drastically alter how people behave, satisfies all these requirements and is therefore an ‘enduring icon.’

“It’s a campaign platform that has used creativity to drive brand and sales growth consistently over a period of three years or more,” she added. “It’s stuck with the same creative strategy since its debut at the Super Bowl in 2010. And it has created strong commercial outcomes ever since.”

The annual Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity serves as a further validation of Snickers’ success. There have been 47 Lions awarded to ‘You’re Not You…’ campaigns in the last decade, across 14 categories and six countries.

“It’s no coincidence that this mega-winning Lions campaign has a simple and bold idea that sits at its heart,” said Susie Walker, head of awards at Cannes Lions. Snickers has been successful for such a long period of time because of the Brand’s commitment to the strategy. Snickers has won numerous awards at the Cannes Lions, and it has also been recognised four times in the WARC Effective 100, an annual ranking of the most decorated brands and campaigns.

According to WARC’s VP/content David Tiltman, “Snickers is a rare example of a brand keeping a single creative platform in the market.”


Despite this evidence, short-termism often takes root in times of crisis; with COVID-19 and the recent talk of a recession, revenues have been under pressure, and many brand custodians have reduced their brand-building efforts. Marketers, according to Walker, should learn from Snickers’ success, and she provided evidence for this claim by analysing the case studies of the 2010 and 2007 Cannes Lions winners. They found an increase of 85% in brand-led, long-term projects. The brands that did best were the ones that invested heavily in brand building over time.

It’s true that bottom-of-the-funnel rational messaging and quick-response campaigns have their place, but the future of successful B2B marketing will be marked by increased creativity and recall. Creative storytelling, and other memory-enhancing tools will be central to its success.

If properly implemented, there is a chance to boost creative effectiveness. The most creative and targeted will be successful, and those who are prepared to dedicate themselves to longer-term brand building will reap the greatest rewards. In light of the current economic unrest, it may be challenging for businesses to experience the desired results if they decide to cut back on their level of creative output or media spending in the short term.

Now is the time to think ‘more’.

Creative Director