Research Digest

How To Apply a Big Game Sized Creative Strategy to Your Evergreen Campaigns


  • Advertisers that use creativity to drive brand and sales growth consistently over a long period of 3 years or more are more likely to create long-term commercial impact. 
  • A combination of simplicity, inspiration, consistency and positivity are markers of a successful “Big Game” ad.
  • Transform a single TV ad spot into a campaign through a digital wraparound strategy.
The Ladder of Commercial Impact

The “Big Game” (coined SB for brevity in this article) is unmistakably one of the highlights of the year for both advertisers and viewers alike—and it’s also one of the most expensive. This year, a 30-second ad spot will cost upwards of $7 million, which overtakes last year’s $6.5 million price tag. What can advertisers who don’t necessarily have a SB sized budget, learn from their creative approach? This research piece explores how brands can expand their creative and rework their ad for an omnichannel presence. 

What Makes a Commercially Impactful Ad?

Cannes Lions, an organization that has set the benchmark for creative excellence in the communications and advertising industry, devised a ‘Creative Effectiveness Ladder’ that assesses effectiveness, and determines which factors drive long-term retention and engagement. As brands work to ‘unlock’ to climb each ‘rung’ of the ladder, they can drive long-term impact that endures long beyond any single campaign (like the SB):

  1. Influential Ideas: These use creativity to maximize engagement and sharing.
    What to track: Broad Campaign metrics (rather than performance metrics) like recall, social shares and earned media value.
    Examples: Piggybacking off of major cultural moments or creative that empathizes with the customer (or shows the customer’s point of view when encountering a service or product).

  2. Behavior Breakthroughs: These use creativity to change the purchase behavior of customers or to change other forms of behavior relevant to the success of the brand.
    What to track: Behavioral metrics including penetration, loyalty and purchase frequency.
    Examples: Brands should ask themselves what action they want their customer to take (beyond purchase)—it could be to better their lives, save time etc. Centering the creative idea around a behavioral outcome is key to achieving this. 

  3. Sales Spikes: Where creativity is used to create short-term, temporary growth in sales, market share or profitability.
    What to track: Short-term performance including sales value, conversion events, market share and ROI
    Examples: Apply the same strategy as you would for a Black Friday promotion—a window of time where people are looking for deep discounts. Highlighting scarcity and urgency (limited time offers) are key.

  4. Brand Builders: These use creativity to improve the fundamental measures of brand health, like awareness, consideration, purchase preference and intent.
    What to track: Brand health metrics including brand awareness, brand preference and purchase intent 
    Examples:“How can I emphasize my brand’s strengths?” Should be the question brands need to ask themselves when developing creative. This, combined with connecting and championing the consumer should be at the heart of this creative strategy.

  5. Commercial Triumphs: Use creativity to increase sales and market share beyond a quarter or after a campaign has wrapped up.
    What to track: Track performance for three months across sales value, market share and ROI.
    Examples: Tap into the power of emotional storytelling, and don’t be afraid to include the consumer, or better yet, have them tell the story.

  6. Enduring Icons: This is ultimately where all brands want to end up. These brands use creativity to drive brand and sales growth consistently over three or more years to create a lasting impact.
    What to track: Brand health, market share and ROI over a three-year period.
    Examples: Sticking to a uniform creative strategy or creative work that continues to reinforce the brand message.

How to Create a CTV Ad For Lasting Impact Through the Lens of the Big Game

With these insights in mind, it’s clear that investing in creative variety is key to achieving each of these milestones. Additionally, using big scale events like the SB as a backdrop provides learnings that can be applied throughout the year. Research company System1 analyzed game day commercials in 2020 and 2021 and concluded that successful ads contained at least one of the following: inspirational stories, not too many celebrities, balanced out short- and long-term, and were consistent (like the M&M characters we know and love).

Then, there’s the ‘digital wraparound’ effect, demonstrated by a Tourism Australia campaign during the 2018 SB, which created a spoof Hollywood-style promotional campaign for a new Crocodile Dundee film. This was supported by both digital and social content pre- and post-game, which went viral. Post-game viewers who had interacted with the content were programmatically retargeted with conversion assets tailored to their interests, significantly driving intermediate metrics and bookings. The campaign also won eight Cannes Lions, including a Titanium Lion. Brands can emulate this through working off their CTV creative as the ‘hero’ asset and repurposing this creative for their other owned channels. For example, if you are a CPG brand launching a new product, this might mean first launching teasers/micro videos of the CTV ad across social media to pique interest, and then extend the life of the campaign by giving it a ‘multi-touch makeover’ via retargeted ads. 


Not all brands have the budget or media dollars to advertise during the SB, but that doesn’t mean they can’t take away learnings from the advertisers who have created winning campaigns, and apply it throughout the year. Cannes Lions created a ‘Creative Effectiveness Ladder’ to showcase the different levels of creative excellence and how brands can ‘progress’ up the ladder to create ads that have lasting commercial impact. These insights, along with best practices from SB advertisers like Tourism Australia, showcase the importance of formatting their creative around Connected TV and then also applying a multi-touch, omnichannel approach across other owned channels for a true ‘wraparound’ campaign.   

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