Secrets to Success

By Victoria Wells​, freelance writer for CAANZ

​Achieving value and proving effectiveness in marketing spend is ever harder amid budget pressures in a shifting media landscape traversed by increasingly savvy consumers. Yet each year, a select few campaigns are held up as examples of the world’s most effective advertising – with the data to prove it.

These are campaigns that delivered sales, ROI and behaviour change and could demonstrate those successes in a measurable way. Not just a great creative idea, they achieved tangible results. They are the Effie® winners, an award programme run in 40 countries and recognised by advertisers and agencies globally as the industry’s pre-eminent honour.

The New Zealand Effies are run by the Communications Agencies Association (CAANZ), and this year it commissioned Nielsen to create the 2016 Effie Report (available at – an analysis of local Effie award-winning entries to discover what made these campaigns so powerful. Of the 99 Effie finalists in 2015, just under half were awarded a medal and only seven of those were gold. What set them apart?

Nielsen found the gold-winning campaigns established relevant and measurable objectives (but fewer of them), used digital media as the norm and targeted their touchpoints with focused media resources. In-depth research was crucial too: the top campaigns showed greater use of tracking and segmented targeting for insights and strategy.

Local Effie gold-winners included ASB and IRD – both big ships that take time to turn when it comes to campaigns demanding agile, innovative approaches – but their confidence in the research and data underpinning their respective strategies gave them courage to take theleap.

After research with their target market revealed active avoidance of traditional advertising but a love of Snapchat, ASB embraced the app to bolster numbers for its Tertiary Package and exceeded its target for student acquisitions by 22%. ASB’s Gail Pettit described the campaign launch as “like all of us holding hands at the top of a cliff”, but says the insights gave ASB the confidence to invest in building a social community rather than trying to “flog” packages directly.

The core insight in IRD’s campaign to reach overseas-based student loan borrowers came when the agency identified that IRD actually needed to find them first and proposed a “digital manhunt”. This required new policy and development by IRD’s IT security team – no small ask – but one the client was happy to undertake given the strength of the research. “We empowered the data geeks to challenge us on what we thought we knew,” says IRD’s Andrew Stott, “on what we thought we could do, and on how we spent the money.”

The concepts behind the top Effies may be standard industry practice (planning, focused objectives and research-based insights arehardly revelatory) but CAANZ CEO Paul Head points out there seems to be a disconnnect: “When you’ve read as many Effie entries as I have and look at the results it’s clear that if advertisers and agencies know this stuff, many of them aren’t acting on it.”

Campaigns win Effies because they can prove they worked and there are lessons to be taken from those successes. And, in the case of the New Zealand analysis – the top tier Effie winners returned $17 for every $1 invested. And that’s real gold, no matter which side of the table you’re on.