Cannes Lions and WARC have released The Effectiveness Code, a white paper launched to coincide with the start of Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity (June 22-26).

The global study, carried out by marketing effectiveness experts James Hurman and Peter Field on behalf of Cannes Lions and WARC, is to help clients and agencies increase the effectiveness of their campaigns.

One of the key features from the study is The Creative Effectiveness Ladder — a universal framework of the six main types of effects produced by creative marketing to help brands and agencies increase the effectiveness of their campaigns.


Last year, Hurman and Field undertook a global study involving a committee of international leaders from the world of strategy and planning, which revealed a consensus that the industry lacked a ‘universal definition’ and ‘shared language’ of effectiveness, limiting the ability to what best practice effectiveness looks like.

Subsequent analysis and comparison of close to 5,000 effectiveness award entrants and winners from 2011 through 2019, sourced from the Cannes Creative Effectiveness Lions database (1,031 cases), WARC’s database (3,616) and the IPA databank (216), also uncovered a new principle of effectiveness.

From this, Hurman and Field discovered marketing effectiveness is heavily influenced by a campaign’s ‘creative commitment’, a composite measure of media budget, duration and number of media channels applied.

The Creative Effectiveness Ladder

In response to the global study findings, Hurman and Field, alongside Cannes Lions and WARC, have developed The Creative Effectiveness Ladder, a framework to evaluate the progress of effective marketing.

The framework provides a universal definition and shared language for effectiveness and has been designed to be used as a continuous improvement tool for marketers and agencies, enabling them to produce more consistently highly effective creative campaigns and initiatives.

The Creative Effectiveness Ladder outlines six main levels of effectiveness achievement, from least (level 1) to most commercially impactful (level 6):

According to Hurman and Field, there are two main uses for The Creative Effectiveness Ladder for brands and agencies:

  • Identification of the very best creative work at each level and discovery of how to drive specific types of important marketing outcomes
  • A continuous improvement tool for agencies and client marketers

“Cannes Lions is committed to addressing the global community’s challenges with short-termism and proving the value of creative marketing. The Creative Effectiveness Ladder is a tool for change and the start of the mission. We’re currently working with the industry to identify how the Ladder can be used as a tool to judge the Creative Effectiveness Lion so that the global benchmark in creative and effective work is underpinned by this step forward in effectiveness,” said Simon Cook, managing director of Cannes Lions.

“The Creative Effectiveness Ladder is a huge step forward for the industry. With a shared framework for evaluating the effects of communications, marketers and agencies can plan and benchmark their work far more consistently,” added David Tiltman, VP of content at WARC.

Access the Whitepaper to view the full study and framework. You can also stream Cannes Lions Live throughout this week.