CANNES — This year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity aptly kicked off with McKinsey’s unveiling of its Economics of Creativity ground-breaking report on correlating creativity and business performance. Jason Heller, Partner and Global Lead of Digital Marketing Operations presented the report.

In terms of creativity and the production of great advertising, the best ads undoubtedly have been able to delight and inspire consumers. But for marketers and company executives, do their investments in these large-scale advertising activities actually create economic value? 

Heller and McKinsey say “yes”. The answer is based on 16 years worth of Cannes Lions data and financial information. McKinsey came up with the Award Creativity Score (ACS) to quantify creativity. The ACS has three components: number of Lions won (McKinsey assigned more points to higher awards), breadth of categories (how many award categories a certain company entered and won), and consistency (how often companies have won awards over time). 

McKinsey found that a higher ACS score correlated with financial performance and that there is a correlation to prove that innovation drives business performance. 

Yet, Heller reminded the audience that creativity is just part of a formula to drive performance. Companies who are more technologically inclined, those with stronger market positions, as well as other factors have to be taken into consideration when looking into business performance. But creativity is now a definite factor to be considered. 

With these results in mind, McKinsey went further to identify four practices companies need to do to drive creativity in their organisations.

1. Embody creativity in daily practices. 

Heller stressed that creativity should start at the executive level. Senior executives themselves should be role models of creativity. “Saying and doing it are two different things”, Heller said.

2. Be maniacally consumer-focused. 

“The more you know about your consumers, the better you’re going to market to them,” Heller said. Having more knowledge about a brand’s consumers is akin to using a rifle instead of a shotgun. Brands need to ask “how can I truly connect with these consumers?”

3. Embrace the need for speed. 

Brands and companies need to convert insight to action in a fast and timely manner. “Marketing should be at the forefront, not riding on the coattails of another transformation,” Heller emphasized.

4. Adapt.

Heller encouraged companies to use data and analytics to be more intuitive of their consumers’ behaviours. 

Watch the rest of Heller’s presentation and McKinsey’s results below: