Blunt Truths, Sharper Strategies: What we discovered at EffWorks 2022

In this episode, Managing Partner for Strategy Rik Moore and Head of Planning Christian Taylor sit down to discuss the big headlines and key talking points from EffWorks 2022.

Available to listen to here.


Hello and welcome to Unmuddled, the podcast by the Kite Factory. Today you’re joining myself, christian Taylor, the head of planning, and Rick Moore, managing partner of strategy at the kite factory. And we are talking about blunt truth and sharper strategies. What we discovered at EFFworks Global 2022. EFFworks Global is a weeklong session run by the IPA International Institute of Practitioners of Advertising who are championing effectiveness in the advertising sector. During the week, we get the chance to revisit some of the effectiveness essentials and how we apply them to our media. And advertising really is a chance for us to champion effectiveness and ensure that we’re continuing our effectiveness culture in the advertising sector. Rick, welcome. Hello, my friend. How are you? You’re very good, thank you very much. So today we’re just going to share. We spend a week sort of watching some of the highlights and we’re going to share some of the key findings from the weekend. So we titled the session Blunt Truths Sharper Saturday Strategies. And I’m just going to outline the three blunt truths that we found in the session of the week. So the first one that we found was that really there are no silver bullets. What we mean by that is essentially what you’ve got in your effectiveness toolbox. We need to go back in there and find the tools that we can apply in this new environment that we’re operating in. The second Blunt Truth is effectiveness has never been more important. Obviously, in the context of the volatility of the economy and everything else that’s happening at the moment. That was very much the setting of the conversations that we’re having the week. And finally, the continuing power of brands, really important to highlight the benefit of having a strong brand, especially in recessionary times, and how that can impact your long term effectiveness. So, Rick, let’s just sort of unpack some of the themes that we’ve heard that helps address some of those Blunt Truth. So what were the sharper strategies? Could you give me some of your thoughts on how the no silver bullets, Blunt Truth we might address? Well, great setup and I think the Blunt truth is there’s not a new metric or there’s not a new methodology out there. You said it by yourself, it’s the existing toolbox, we have to use it’s. How can you use those time honored methods to find out what’s going on? I mean, taking a step back. Effectiveness is such an important bedrock of our industry and I think of anything the IPA does beyond lobbying on behalf of the industry I think it’s their champion of effectiveness is the most important thing they do because it gives us the license to go out to brands, to marketeers and say look, advertising can work. This is what it can deliver. And it’s almost like a strategist Christmas false global in that you get to see these awards every two years. The IPA databank entrance. The IPA festival awards. I had an old client describes the Rolls Royce of awards, and they really are the amount of rigor and evidence and effort that goes into writing in an IPA effectiveness paper. I mean, it’s a three month undertaking. It’s effectively writing a dissertation to explain why your campaigns work. And they make fascinating reading, and they point to the very best of what our industry does. And there’s so much you can learn from them this time. You’re always pouring over. The papers, find them fascinating. The 2022 Awards kicked the week off, allowing us to see some of the biggest stories we’ll come and touch on them as we go through the podcast. Then it went into the F Works Conference and hearing from practitioners on the stage, hearing keynote talks, hearing panel discussions. It became very clear why this no Silver Bullet phrase came from, which is, everybody who’s talking about things we know. And again, if you don’t feel, you know, effectiveness, I would absolutely commend some of the IPA’s training. There’s a wonderful effect in this essential certificate, and there’s an advanced certificate of Effectiveness. Both qualification is fantastic. The first one is about 10 hours of study, the second one is 30 hours study. But just they give you everything you need in the toolbox. And nothing I heard last week changed any of those things. We talked about the importance of econometrics, the importance of measuring and knowing where you’re going. So it’s how we apply them. And that’s why the IP Effective paper is so interesting, because we get a sense of what is the very best in the industry doing and how are they using effectiveness to show that it’s worked. And that really stood out for me. So that’s why we have that as our first blunt truth. Yeah, absolutely. And I think looking back to some of the toolbox, and now going back to that analogy, some of the things that we sort of pulled out was this idea of consistency. So looking at some of the award papers that came into the IPFX Award this year, actually some of them were brands returning from actually not in the too distant past. So they were coming back and showing how they were consistently applying these effectiveness techniques to continue to grow their brand. So the likes of Tesco, McDonald’s and Sick Kids, the brands that you might expect, continue to show the best behaviors in that space. Another concept which we heard around some of the talks was a concept of the idea of both ism. So this is the concept of balance and thinking about, actually, that we shouldn’t lean into one more than the other and make sure that we’re not sort of taking a direction of our brands or advertising or our practices into one more than the other. For example, going too far into shortterm advertising, focusing too much on shortterm effectiveness, but actually ensuring that you’ve got that balance in the metrics that you’re measuring and the goals of the advertising that you’re doing over time as well. So I think that probably wraps up some of the concepts around no silver bullets. The second blunt truth we said was effectiveness has never been more important. And I think this was highlighted in several talks, essentially looking at the economic environment in which we’re sort of operating now, it’s really important to take a step back and understand what is happening in your sector and looking at whether you’re experiencing inflationary prices. But actually some brands or sectors even still experiencing challenges with a hangover from the Pandemic or even from the war in Ukraine. So they might have pressures on their supply chain, for example. So really diagnosing, are your prices rising because of consumer demand or also you sort of having supply chain issues as well? Is that increasing your cost? So that creates different challenges for different brands. And really what I sort of took away from a lot of the conversations that we had in the week was looking at how we can optimize and really using the tools that we’ve got to ensure that we can actually optimize within that. And one of the key things, obviously, is looking at pricing. So the godfather of effectiveness, Les Burnett, gave a really insightful talk, as he always does, on how to utilize econometric modeling to optimize your pricing. It should be something that would easily fall out of that. So a really useful tool to kind of go and address that, but similarly scrutinize your promotions. So again, looking at modeling, which can help us show the incrementality of promotions and protecting your price elasticity. So I think you also there were some other conversations around the week, Rick, about grouping sectors and how they work together. Absolutely. Dr. Grace Kite, who founded a consultant called Magic Numbers, she’s somebody we’ve seen before. She spoke very well at Think Box a couple of times and she’s one of those people you see on a conference schedule. That’s the talk I want to go to and has ever been disappointed this time around. She made this really interesting description of sectors into three buckets, and it was an observation, I think she was saying they’d made in the coronavirus epidemic but then applying it forward to the cost of living crisis. They looked at categories in terms of did people think they’re going to spend the same as they have done in increased level spend or less spent project on 2023? And what she did was this enabled her to group them into victim sectors, sectors which you’ll see a drop in spend in 2023. So examples be things like the furniture category, electronic and high ticket price, electrical, food delivery and homeware and theater and concerts. Those areas where people feel they could probably prune back on and make savings on until things are more affordable. That she called the victim sectors. Those who would feel the real bite of the recessionary climate in the middle. Secure sectors. Those work for maintaining spend. Examples of things like home improvement, gym’s, fitness, beauty products, clothing, shoes, sports events and cinemas, those things close to what really matter to us, close to our passions and our hobbies. Those people prioritizing their spend to protect those. She called those the secure sectors. And then finally, those are the sectors where they’ll see increased investment. And the study she was looking at the Ocnc survey data, she was quoting this on, she talked about eating and drinking out international travel, domestic travel and groceries. This is very interesting because they’re all areas that were held back by what we saw in the coronavirus pandemic, the things that people were denied. And therefore, I think if you have any sort of savings and you can avoid the worst of the bite of the cost of living crisis, they’re things that people are going to want to champion their savings into because they miss, they want to get that time back. It’s called those beneficiary sectors, sectors where they will see a boost. So you get victim sectors, secure sectors, beneficiary sectors. And why that’s important is that she was describing different situations, inform what you should take as your next steps. So if you’re in a beneficiary sector, make the most of the opportunity with big bets in your advertising plan, because it’s an optimal time to try and do that. For those in secure sectors, look for low cost media buyers to get extra share of voice for cheap and high ROI campaigns, make the most of efficiencies. And again, that resonated very much with us here at Kyle factory, how much we talk about unpacking channels around, owned, earn, shared and paid, looking for those performance, looking for those optimizations, looking at positive ROIs. That really resonated with me. But it was really interesting for the victim categories. I mean, you talked before about Maritz and Championing of both of them. Again, that really applies during Fbors, because both of them, he talks that idea of back one thing over the other. I think the great example is people say, oh, it’s the death of TV. No, it’s TV and other things as both as it means it’s not your cake and eating it. That’s the essence of Bennett and Phil’s Landmark, the long and the short of it, it’s not about just doing short or just doing long. If the two held together, and Ritzen has written very eloquently about brands navigating the recession, getting the balance of the two, but making the right calls. And this is where those victim sectors come in. Grace Cart’s writing, she talks about if you think you’re in a victim sector, go quiet unless you’ve done the math and assure share a voice is cheap enough that you’re going to see a return on your investment. Again, at the heart of effectiveness is that return on marketing investment. Do you see the return of the spend you put out there. So if you’re a victim, taker being more cautious, trying to weather the storm and I think as we go into the cost of living crisis that was writ large across this at work, you know, how can effectiveness help brands navigate? And I think that’s the thing Coronavirus taught us is you can get through this if you can navigate it, if you make the right calls quickly and efficiently going through and I think that was a key message for me coming out of it. So it’s a great crowd to work, fantastic. If you want to check it out, magic Numbers is the name of the company and on Twitter and they’re very good at sharing free research but that was really fascinating I thought. Definitely. And I think some of the points you brought out there rang true again for Les Burnett’s conversation, which thinking about actually maintaining the spend or sort of maintaining it in relevance to your competitors will be really valuable within a recessionary market. But actually looking for the opportunity to optimize within that, as you described, depending on the sector you’re in. What he really said that stood out for me is optimized for profit and not for efficiency. So very much looking at how you can improve sustain price elasticity by investing in your brand but also utilizing optimizations across whether it be your products, your portfolio, your geographies within your media investments and then kind of pointed towards the alchemy of creativity and the irrational power that it can have to have such a multiplier effect on your advertising as well. So all of these principles I think are sort of things that we can start to apply over the next twelve months considering about media investments. So our final blunt truth that we pulled out from the week was the continuing power of brands and some of the concepts that we highlighted were the importance of maintaining mental availability. Now, it’s a concept that has been championed by the likes of Byron Sharp in how brands grow. Mental availability is very important for ensuring that we exist in people’s minds, but also coupling that with fiscal availability is essentially the sort of formula for growing brands. Rick, were there any other sort of key takeaways on the concept of availability? You heard. I thought mental availability. As I say it’s in barron. Sharp, savorance, gross. It’s been around almost a decade and a half now, but I think there’s been a real shift back towards it if you look in the last 18 months of different award papers. And it was really validated as we saw the papers get awarded at the Effectiveness Awards at the start last week. Mental abilities coming back time and time again. He talked about lesbiant, peter Field, his famous coauthor of the Long and the Shorter bit. He’s written one of the best papers I’ve seen so far on the importance of availability which he did with the Australian Council for Advertising and the published papers. In Summer 2021, it was called to ESOV and beyond access share of voice and beyond. It’s a really interesting paper. In it they talked about the threats to share a voice, about share of voices getting more difficult to measure. The media marketplace has become increasingly dysfunctional. Creative strength, to your point about creativity, makes a huge difference. The great unfair advantage of the old club goes is still absolutely true there. And while Share A Search, which is a newer metric coming in, is valuable, it’s not a replacement for Share of voice. How do you navigate around that? And he said underpinning all of that, the importance of mental availability. Now again, to everything we said about both of them, it’s not mental ability, expense, physical availability, you need the activation now you need people to go and buy the product. But you can make that job a hell of a lot easier if you push on mental availability. And in this paper to the Sov and beyond, they prove that campaigns with a very large impact on mental availability have a stronger impact on all business metrics. We’re talking about metrics like short term sales response, long term market share growth, strengthening pricing, new customer acquisition, customer retention and brand profit growth. All campaigns that had a very large impact on mental availability saw the best performing scores on all of those metrics. So mental availability, if we think of that as how do you make your brand distinctive, how do you make your brand famous, how are you always on? And I always just say always on doesn’t mean three or 65 days a year, it just means less fallow periods. How are you consistently discoverable, how are you selling the first brand you think of when you come into a given market? We talk about changing brand, the Lighthouse identity. If you’re in market, not in market, you know what that brand stands for. I think all of those unpack out of mental availability and I think again, talking about Navigating, the cost of living crisis, talk about Navigating the next year, which would be very tough. Brands that can really push that mental availability will fare really well. And I thought that was a key lesson, reasserted, if you will. There was a lot of reassertion of the good fundamentals of effectiveness through Girth work last week and that one really stood out to me absolutely and gives a real strong case for brands to continue to invest in big brand building exercises. And one of the case studies that really stood out for the week was the Grand Prix winner of the IPA Effectiveness Award, which we would really like to celebrate. Essentially it was a great story written by VCC and Mondelez International Group about Cadburys, the chocolate brand. So Cadburys essentially have been through a tough few years. So being bought by international brand, they started to see some bad press in the UK and actually saw their sales decline. Some of the key things that we really took away from this was the power of the brand and actually going back to this concept of purpose. So purpose has been sort of a hot topic over the past few years and it was good to see it sort of come back and sort of reference within Fworks and actually the true power of it in the Grand Prix winning IPA effectiveness of paper. So really the sort of key takeaways from the paper were looking at how revisiting Cadbury’s purpose after a period of sort of dilution and uncertainty and change, revisiting their purpose, going back to their history and embedding that culture across the whole organization meant that it wasn’t just about promotion of the brand, it was about the product. It was about the people, the employees within the organization who could all collectively get behind their new strategy. And essentially it was revisiting their concept of the’glass and a half in everyone, which is going back to their core product of caffeine’s milk chocolate, which brought through this concept of having a generous instinct at the core of that idea of generosity. It meant that they could sort of feed it out across every single brief that they sent out. They checked every concept for this idea of generosity. They were able to activate on the short and the long term and bring people into this new idea of the brand and generosity overall. What that means is they’ve seen a 22% growth in their sales in the annual period and a huge revenue and income driver and they’ve seen their brand metrics return back to growth. So a real good proof point and case for investment in the brand and building the continuing power of brands in this current climate as well. I mean, that’s just such a good story. And also we talked all the way through this about the importance of creativity. There’s joy in the Cadbury brand and there’s joy in the portfolio and they’re really good at bringing that to life and they’re creative and creating fun. I mean, they’ve got some of the best examples I’ve ever seen of gamification of a mainstream brand and brought to life in a really interesting way. Looking at that paper as a media agency, we can sit here and we can talk about the creative output and great creative agencies bring great work to the table. I think it’s really gauntlet down to the media agencies and it’s our job is how do we bring creativity into media in an effective way. You don’t want hollow creativity that doesn’t return. But if you think about, OK, we’re going to be given this amazing brand asset, we’re going to help cocreate this amazing brand asset with a creative partner, how is that coming to life in the media? How are we using channels to serve it in the best possible way? In front, in front of where people’s eyeballs going to be, how are we showing behavior in the way we turn up in media spaces that enhances that creative work. And I think that’s a really interesting challenge for us. And again, it’s a testament to that Caviar’s campaign. I think every level you see of it has that creativity and that joy and I think that speaks to a cohesion. I think some of the we talked about some of those people coming back those award papers time and time again. Tesco last time around, grand Prix winner getting gold again because they’re able to tell the story of their last paper. Told the story of how they went from one of the worst crisis in British corporate history to creating a brand that the nation love. Again, talk about this paper to know how they navigated the pandemic McDonald’s. In all the papers they wrote about faith and was talking about challenges they faced and maybe losing their weight slightly, but how they’ve proved effectiveness and getting back on track so strong in those papers. Sick kids in the charity sector, a landmark paper and I got silver last time around. They might have moved that on and build on that platform in just a short two years to go to gold. There’s consistency and I think the pinnacle of that is the Capri’s paper. So again, for us as a media agency, how we work with our creative parts, deliver that for our brands and I think that starts to inform some of the lessons and take outs we have. How we answer those blunt truths coming beyond death works. Absolutely. Thanks very much. So I’m going to summarize just some of the points we’ve covered today looking back at our blunt truths and our sharper strategies and how you can start to apply them yourselves. So firstly, we said there are no new silver bullet approaches. So perhaps ask ourselves how we can help our clients make the most of what’s available. And what we mean by that is one of the tools that we got in our toolbox that we can help address the issues, reach back into the effectiveness archives and use some of those concepts that we’ve explored today. So efficiency both ism and utilizing short and long term brand building exercises. Secondly, effectiveness has never been more important. So we talked about this idea of addressing your sector, understanding what’s going in your environment and how can you start to optimize investments for profit and not efficiency, not ROI. Actually looking at how we look at using brand, for example, to increase your price elasticity and whilst maintaining your investments over time, but tweaking them finally, the continuing power of brands. So how can we continue to build mental availability utilizing the opportunities that might address that we might find in the next few months? Whether that be an excess share of voice that you may not have had previously or the opportunity to do that with lower budgets and continuing to unlock growth with that long term brand as we come out of the period of recession. So that’s everything from us here today. Thank you, Rick, for your time. It’s been a pleasure conversation. It’s been really great. We had a great week at FWRs, and we’re going to apply all of these concepts in the coming months and share the agency and with our clients ourselves. You’ve been listening to unmuddled by the Kite Factory. See you in the next episode.