The recently announced Effie Awards Europe winners cover a wide range of sectors and strategies, offering inspiration on the many ways advertising effectiveness can be achieved, writes WARC’s Chiara Manco. 

Since 1996, the Effie Awards Europe have been rewarding campaigns that have achieved proven success through effective marketing communications. In sectors ranging from retail to financial services, and with creative covering all tones from the emotional to the functional, the 2020 winners are a rich pool of inspiration for advertising effectiveness in all its shapes and forms.

VÚB Bank: win-win strategy bags the Grand Effie

This year’s Grand Effie winner was VÚB Bank, Slovakia’s second-largest bank, with a campaign that armed consumers with the tools to better their financial situation, ultimately benefiting both them and the bank. With Slovaks’ average Household Saving Rate ranking amongst the lowest in the whole of the European Union, VÚB Bank set out to encourage people to open savings accounts and pick up the habit of regularly putting money aside. Through TRIAD Advertising, VÚB Bank positioned money saving as a positive addiction, which was communicated in ads featuring the bank’s brand ambassador as a therapy group leader encouraging attendees to develop the habit. And while the message was communicated via TV, online video, social media and print, VÚB Bank also provided people with a tool to actually start saving: a browser plug-in that would stop online impulse-buyers in their tracks and suggest they saved the money instead.

During the campaign, Slovaks’ savings were three times higher than the previous year’s, and VÚB Bank surpassed its goal of new saving accounts opened by 151%. Upon awarding it the Grand Effie during the Awards’ online Gala, Jury Co-Chair Claudia Kuhn, Brand Building and Integrated Communication Manager at P&G, described the work as “genius: such a great combination of building the brand and doing something good for everybody.”

Special Olympics Belgium: defiant non-profit communications

Special Olympics, an organisation serving athletes with intellectual disabilities in Belgium, won the Silver award for Best of Europe: Positive Change. The non-profit wanted to tackle a pressing issue for athletes with intellectual disabilities: the lack of support they often face due to the difficulty of finding sponsors. Special Olympics launched a hero film that challenged brands to #DareToSponsor across social platforms, and partnered famous athletes to start a dialogue with brands. Expanding beyond social, the organisation called out brands with banners on marketing websites, direct mail featuring its athletes, and even an OOH billboard outside P&G’s headquarters.

Special Olympics’ paper perfectly embodied the Positive Change award’s definition for non-profit work: “communications efforts that have effectively driven positive change for society and successfully contributed back to the organisation’s purpose.” Through LDV United, the campaign led to more than 5,000 Special Olympics athletes finding a sponsor, many of which major brands such as P&G, Axa, Johnson & Johson and Nestlé.

Aldi Ireland: a past campaign revamped for today’s consumers

Low-cost supermarket Aldi won the Silver award for Best of Europe: Retail, with its Swap & Save 2.0 campaign in Ireland. Failing to attract new customers, and losing some to boot, Aldi conducted thorough consumer research to understand the reasons behind its stunted growth. It found that its target audience of value-seeking families were mostly misinformed about Aldi: they didn’t know about its fresh products, its ranges catering to special dietary needs, or the amount of Irish-sourced products available. What’s more, at a time when the Irish economy was booming, consumers wanted to thrive too, and Aldi’s comms made the supermarket feel like a compromise.

The strategy, through McCann Manchester, was to resurface a past campaign last aired in 2015: Swap & Save, where real shoppers who had switched to Aldi gave video testimonials on their savings. The format was refreshed to focus on specific food ranges that consumers wouldn’t expect from Aldi and featured whole families, rather than single consumers. To tackle misperceptions, families showed how switching to the discount supermarket meant they had money left over to enjoy themselves, but never at the expense of finding the food they liked or having to compromise on quality. A further improvement on the past version of Swap & Save was the inclusion of social media: switchers were encouraged to share their saving stories on their channels, in their own way.

Over a total of 15 months, Swap & Save grew Aldi sales by €158m, an increase of 13.37%. By the end of the campaign, value share had risen from 0.9% to 12%, re-establishing Aldi as Ireland’s market-leading discount grocer.

Heineken 0.0: humour reframes a product from less to more

Publicis Italy’s campaign for Heineken 0.0 won the Bronze award for Sustained Success, which honours work that has succeeded for three or more years in a European market. Despite the market for non-alcoholic beer consistently growing, alcohol-free beer was still broadly perceived as the ‘uncool’ alternative to beer. Heineken sought to frame its 0.0 non-alcoholic beer as a positive choice, cheekily positioning it as permission to drink beer on more occasions. The Now You Can campaign humorously showcased occasions when the audience could enjoy Heineken 0.0, such as at the gym, doing yoga, folding laundry, at work or while doing DIY. TV was complemented by targeted social posts, and combined with in-store sampling and communications.

In just under four years, Heineken 0.0 has become the world’s fastest-growing and leading non-alcoholic beer. To date, Heineken has estimated a profit ROI of up to €3.71:1

Creativity that builds brands

The 2020 Effie Europe winners are not just campaigns born out of smart ideas and executed in engaging ways: they are work proving the value of effective advertising to a brand’s business. In the words of Jury Co-Chair Claudia Kuhn: “Creative advertising is always enjoyable to watch. Yet, most powerful and hardest to achieve is creativity that is proven to build the brand’s business. The Effie is all about that: you cannot win it without having inspiring creative, but neither can you without solid business results.”