What we learned at EffWorks Global 2020

EffWorks Global 2020 was a free virtual Effectiveness Week, running from 12-16 October, presenting unparalleled opportunities for brands and agencies.

Effectiveness Editor Carlos Grande highlights six findings from the week of events.

Boardroom priorities have changed

If we don’t start with what the leaders of client organisations are thinking, is there any point in continuing down the rest of this list?

A new FT/IPA/EffWorks study of senior client executives demonstrates how boards’ agendas have shifted significantly because of the Covid-19 pandemic and its economic fallout.

Ensuring businesses are resilient, managing cash flow and reducing risk have all leapt in importance for decision-makers.

And 40% of respondents – including 36% of marketers – believe commercial decision-making is more short-term as a result.

Given that IPA/EffWorks research consistently shows that over-emphasising the short term can undermine effective, financially rewarding brand building, this is a sobering development.

At the same time, the new survey confirms managers’ willingness to invest in suitable and agile marketing opportunities. Respondents’ belief in the importance of strong brands has also been strengthened by the growth in online brand discovery and purchasing during the pandemic.

One way, therefore, to navigate the rich and varied content from EffWorks Global 2020, is to ask which sessions can help marketers demonstrate that their work speaks to the current mind set in the C-suite.

Building organisation resilience and brands

This conversation between the CEOs of ITV and the Co-op’s Food business allows us to eavesdrop on leaders with opposite experiences of lockdown – one suffering a sudden collapse in demand, the other seeing it grow unexpectedly.

Jo Whitfield, the CEO of Co-op Food, sums up her learning from the period as “Be resilient, be brave and be kind”.

Whitfield, a former finance director, describes her priorities from that time as “looking after cash, looking after people”.

But what also clearly emerges is the importance Whitfield as CEO personally attaches to the Co-op’s brand values and marketing – “its your conversation with your customer, so how can you not be close to it?”

Reducing risk

The danger of losing market share to rivals is never far from a brand manager’s mind.

So Les Binet’s presentation on how a brand’s share of search can help forecast changes in its market share is timely.  The findings cited are from the automotive, telecoms and energy sectors, but are relevant to other industries.  

Les shows how a brand’s share of organic search queries can be influenced by investing in its share of voice in advertising, with the search metric providing an early warning system of the underlying health of the brand.

To learn from brands that grew their share of search and reaped the financial benefits, see the winning cases from Lloyds Banking Group and Cotswold Company in the 2020 IPA Effectiveness Awards.

Cashing in on effectiveness

Few sectors are as closely identified with a focus on cash and short-term sales as food retailing

Yet the 2020 Grand Prix-winning case study from Tesco outlines how, with the right leadership, a business can balance investing in ‘brand over time and trade overnight’.

Find out how the agency authors of the winning paper worked with the client to develop a strategy to re-connect Tesco’s brand and its business and demonstrate the contribution marketing made to the company’s financial revival.

Or better yet download and read Tesco’s winning paper. You can also learn about other recommended Awards papers, including advice on how they overcame measurement challenges. 

Is purpose fit for purpose?

The lockdown and the ensuing recession have put corporate behaviour under increased scrutiny.

This has added to the pre-existing debate over whether brands should articulate a purpose – namely, a reason for existing beyond making a profit or meeting a consumer need – whether that purpose is linked to a social goal or a more commercial one.

Learn how a global director at Danone is developing a ‘purpose brand model’, ‘turbo-charged’ by creativity.

Or follow the lively debate on the subject at this EffWorks session and a Think with Google satellite event.

Typically, this is one debate where strong opinions are in inverse proportion to the quality of the evidence on either side.

One thing that both proponents and critics agree, however, is that purpose has the attention of corporate leaders. Agencies that don’t develop a point of view on the question do so at their peril.

...but can purpose move, entertain and delight customers?

If there is a theme connecting other major EffWorks 2020 contributions – from Orlando Wood’s new research into online brand building to the latest EffWorks report on customer experience and Paul Feldwick’s typically pithy presentation on selling – it is the importance of investing in strategies for brands to engage with consumers in entertaining and emotionally rewarding ways.

That need for entertainment and reward is something the pandemic has most likely increased  - as suggested by this analysis of consumer psychology in the Covid-19 outbreak.

So any brand that does decide to articulate a purpose would need to do so in a way that avoids rational and platitudinous messaging and shows that they understand where consumers are right now.

The good news for agencies is that this is a challenge for great and effective creativity – exactly what a CMO wants from the brand’s agency.

And like many of the other issues raised by EffWorks Global 2020 sessions it is also an opportunity for marketers to demonstrate that they understand their audience – whether that means consumers or the leaders of businesses trying to serve them.

Catch up with the EffWorks Global 2020 sessions
Last updated 21 January 2022