Despite more than a year of working from home during the global pandemic, the advertising industry was able to shine through creatively, as evidenced at this year’s Cannes Lions Awards.
But despite delivering high-caliber work, brands and agencies are feeling more pressure than ever to prove that creativity performs, according to the Cannes Lions State of Creativity report, which surveyed more than 1,500 marketers, creatives and media owners globally.
According to the study, brands and agencies both noted campaign measurement as a common thread of concern, with 35% of respondents agreeing that proving the effectiveness of creative work is “extremely challenging,” and 61% saying that showing long-term impact is difficult.
At the same time, almost a third of brand leaders (28%) report growing pressure to prove the effectiveness of creativity, leading to more rigor and scrutiny around the creative work produced, said Charlotte Williams, VP of content at Cannes Lions.
“There’s such scrutiny over where every penny is going,” she said. “It forces the industry to quantify [the work] better.”
As a result, upskilling the creative workforce is key to brands and creatives alike, with 80% of respondents identifying it as very, or extremely important. Learning to think strategically to develop ideas that align with business goals, as well as mastering creative briefs and generating ideas from data and research are also top of mind.
That means the incoming creative workforce will need to hone their technical skills to keep up, Williams said.
“Brands have a real opportunity to think beyond just delivering advertising and product,” she said. “So much of what we do now in the creative industry is thinking about product design and business problem solving. It’s far greater than just putting out a 30-second spot.”
According to the study, brands and agencies often disagree about their perceived priorities when it comes to creative. For example, at the height of the pandemic, most marketers (57%) prioritized customer experiences to adapt new consumer habits. Creative agencies, however, focused most on “brand messaging, tone and creative expression,” according to comments collected from respondents.
Brands and creative agencies also disagreed on where clients put their focus over the past year. Whereas brand leaders felt they prioritized investment in longer-term initiatives such as brand awareness (69%), more than half of agencies felt brands were fixated on short-term projects, such as targeted promotions and activations.
And while 67% of brand leaders believe creativity is an “extremely valuable” competitive advantage, just 17% of creatives believe that brands actually do see creativity as a competitive advantage, indicating they may feel undervalued.