Innovation, creativity and packing a punch: What makes marketing effective

What is key to creating effective marketing? With entries now open for the Marketing Week Masters Awards, we speak to five of our judges to gain some insight into what goes into an award-winning campaign.

marketing effectiveness

Effectiveness is the key measure by which all marketing should be judged, but what is the secret to creating effective marketing? While it clearly depends on the brand and its objectives, there are threads that run through the best marketing, whether it’s a clear strategy, a creative idea that stands out from the crowd or results marketers can measure.

With the Marketing Week Masters Awards now open for entries, we speak with five of the judges including Channel 4’s Dan Brooke and Lisa Wood from Atom Bank on how they view effectiveness, and therefore how they’ll be judging the best work this year.

Zoe Clapp, chief marketing officer, UKTV

The very best campaigns have three things: a simple strategy, meticulous delivery, and results you can measure and that show how they made a difference.

The strategy should be clear and simple, with a big idea that gets to the heart of the issue and that can be articulated in a single sentence that everyone can understand and get behind. The delivery needs tremendous effort and as much time as you can create. Inspired media choices and the best creative possible will truly make the idea. Most importantly, great campaigns will have a measurably positive impact. Otherwise, what’s the point?

The best ideas elicit a big, involuntary, emotional response from everyone you tell the concept to. I bet that’s the reaction Mars got when explaining its Maltesers disability campaign. That ticked all the boxes: a great unifying concept that everyone could get behind; beautiful casting and creative delivery from AMV, and then cracking commercial results, the most successful in a decade, they say. Inspirational work.

Lisa Wood, chief marketing officer, Atom Bank

For me, a campaign is only effective if it packs a punch – does it stand out from the crowd and cut through to the audience it’s targeted at? So much marketing is formulaic and sales driven, that while it’s doing a job, it doesn’t necessarily have stand-out. If it’s going to have cut-through for its audience, then it also needs to talk to them in a personal way and be relevant at that moment in time.

The beautiful paradox is that, at the beating heart of many of the most truly effective campaigns is that wonderfully unquantifiable thing: creativity.

Dan Brooke, Channel 4

Are you bringing to life real insight or a truth in a way that makes me stop and think, re-evaluate what I thought I believed, or create an unexpected emotional response? There’s lots of different ways to do this, but real creativity sticks in the mind and has a lasting impact.

Marketers often think about use of technology when they think about what makes something innovative, but I think of it more as being unexpected. The most innovative campaigns are those that have a way of making you stand-up and take notice because they’re delivering a new way of looking at the world, a different perspective.


Ben Rhodes, group marketing director, Royal Mail

Marketers are operating in an increasingly complex environment in today’s world. With slow economic growth the pressure on costs for businesses and solid quarterly results have never been greater. Growth in digital consumption continues to fragment traditional media choices, while offering more opportunities to communicate. How does the modern marketer deliver truly effective activity that grows the bottom line in both the short and long term?

When I think about great marketing, I think about five things:

  1. Do we have a tight grip on who we are selling to, what they are worth and the business opportunity?
  2. Do we have a media plan that reaches as many of these customers as we can with impact, and at a frequency that will ensure recognition?
  3. Will we surprise, delight and engage customers in unexpected, fresh and desirable ways and are we leveraging a sense of the familiar to help us achieve this?
  4. Does our message work from the top of the funnel right down to trial and purchase – deploying hard working performance media alongside awareness building activity?
  5. Are we able to link acquisition to repurchase activity and ensure customer behaviour becomes embedded?

Innovation is less about reliance on a silver bullet. The best, most effective campaigns are the ones that innovate at every stage: in the media choices, message and tone, engagement activity, and how they make the brand live beyond the marketing moment.

Dan Brooke, chief marketing and communications officer, Channel 4

A great campaign is only a great campaign if its effective, which is usually measured in numbers. The beautiful paradox is that, at the beating heart of many of the most truly effective campaigns is that wonderfully unquantifiable thing: creativity. In 2012, no amount of analytics told us that our brand of disability sport would give Channel 4 its biggest ratings for decades. Or that Paralympic ratings in Rio 2016 for young people would actually be higher! It took creativity and courage, qualities that are hard to replicate and even harder to over-rate.

Pete Markey, marketing director, TSB Bank

For me, a great campaign is founded on a great strategy and a great proposition. Without them the campaign is hollow; no amount of good comms can compensate. The Direct Line ‘Fixer’ campaign is a great example; it is founded on a clear and consistent strategy (Direct Line fixes things when they go wrong) and a strong and differentiated proposition (service benefits only available if you come direct).

Entries for Marketing Week’s Masters of Marketing Awards are now open. For more information, including details on how to enter,