Creative Effectiveness Ladder launched by Cannes Lions & WARC

A new scale to plan and evaluate the effectiveness of communications campaigns, uses the metric of ‘Creative Commitment’. The Creative Effectiveness Ladder was launched by Cannes Lions and its sister company, WARC.


The Ladder graduates the effectiveness of communications marketing in six steps from the lowest, influential idea, up to the top grade, enduring icon.

Future judging of Creative Effectiveness Lions Awards entries will use the scale, which is also available as a free download to employ as a planning and evaluation tool.

The Ladder concept is based on analysis of nearly 5,000 case studies from 2011 – 2019, and has drawn on research from the IPA Effectiveness Databank to test and frame its insights.

The ladder was unveiled by James Hurman, author of ‘The Case for Creativity’ in a presentation with Peter Field, author of the influential IPA report, The Crisis in Creative Effectiveness, during the virtual Lions Live 2020 festival.

Their research argues that the principle of ‘Creative Commitment’ – correlates tightly with effectiveness.

The ‘Creative Commitment’ metric is measured by a brand’s investment in budget, campaign duration, and the number of media channels used in one of its marketing campaigns.

The authors have analysed the body of cases and argue that the more that brands have increased these variables – spending more, running campaigns longer and over a higher number of media channels – typically, the more likely they are to achieve more creatively effective work.

However, there is some evidence that the benefits of such an approach can plateau or even fall back when a brand’s commitment is increased beyond optimal levels.

They warn that in recent years marketers have tended to run more short-term campaigns, using fewer channels, with the result that creative effectiveness is decreasing in overall terms.

This finding is in line with research published by the IPA, which has shown a shift away from long-running brand building campaigns to more activation-oriented marketing.

The study also identified the most effective individual media channels for brands at different stages of the creative ladder.

Watch a short video presentation on the Creative Effectiveness Ladder. You can also download a free white paper on the creative effectiveness research.

Last updated 01 May 2024