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Puerto Rico’s Cuspide Festival 2003

Award-Winning Advertising Is ‘Fresh, Fun, And Fabulous’. . .But Does It Sell?


May 15, 2003
Copyright © 2003 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

Research shows that creativity in advertising is crucial to success: Exclusive CB analysis of major local ad campaigns and Leo Burnett study proves that creative, award-winning advertising improves clients’ marketplace results

Does award-winning advertising sell? According to Leila Green, consultant to and former planning director of advertising agency Leo Burnett, the answer is a resounding "yes!" And she has 15 years’ worth of hard data to support her assertion. Yesterday, she was expected to present the results of a recent study titled "Does Award-Winning Advertising Sell (in a Tough Market)?" to a group of advertising and marketing executives gathered for this week’s 2003 Cuspide Festival at the Caribe Hilton hotel.

The study’s results indicate that four in five award-winning campaigns achieve positive marketplace results for clients.
and the Cuspide goes to. . . .

Agency / Year 2000 / Year 2001 / Year 2002

McCann-Erickson, Badillo Nazca S&S / 1 Bronze 1 / -- / 1 Bronze 2

Young & Rubicam / 1 Silver / 3 Bronze, 1 Gold / 2 Bronze

EJE Sociedad Publicitaria / 1 Bronze / 1 Bronze, 1 Gold / 2 Bronze, 1 Silver

Plaza Carolina:
EJE Sociedad Publicitaria / 2 Bronze / 3 Bronze, 1 Silver / 1 Bronze, 2 Silver

Badillo Nazca S&S / 3 Bronze , 1 Silver, 1 Gold / 2 Bronze, 1 Gold / 2 Bronze

BBDO / -- / -- / 1 Bronze

1 Badillo Nazca S&S

2 McCann-Erickson

Source: Association of Advertising Agencies of Puerto Rico

The impressive amount of data gathered by Leo Burnett dispels the common belief that advertising awards are irrelevant to clients’ bottom lines. The report presented to participating agencies does indicate that the debate continues and there is a substantial body of opinion that is dismissive of creative awards. After almost two decades of researching the subject, however, Green is convinced that outstanding creativity is a business imperative.

Fifteen years of consistent results

Leo Burnett carried out the study with the help of 120 other agencies around the world. The study covered advertising that ran from 1999 to 2001.

This was Leo Burnett’s fourth such analysis; studies conducted in 1987, 1994, and 1996 yielded similar results.

The reasons for the study are numerous. They include the existing duality in criteria for assessing successful advertising and the suspicion that the motives for creating ads that win awards differ from those to create ads that sell. The researchers found, however, that creativity and effectiveness are no longer seen as being in opposition but as complementary forces.

The study took into consideration significant changes in the industry, such as the Internet explosion, the proliferation of nontraditional media, and the global economic downturn.

Overall, the study found that 82% of the cases studied met or exceeded their business objectives. Most of the remaining 18% of the cases were declared unsuccessful because neither the agencies nor the clients had enough data to confirm or deny the success of the ads. The others were declared unsuccessful mainly because of insufficient media weight or an inherent inability to work. Hard sales data were provided for 65% of the successful cases, while the remaining 35% were judged on qualitative or attitudinal criteria, such as increased awareness.

"Creativity is an extraordinary subject," said Green in an interview with CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. "It doesn’t mean just being crazy; it means dramatizing the connection between brands and consumers."

Green believes that great creativity is fresh, fun, and fabulous, but also relevant to the product it is trying to sell. "I don’t think people sit on their couch waiting to see ads," she said. "You want to create an ad that people want to watch again and again, bearing in mind the relationship between the user and the product."

More important, Green said that the responsibility for creating great creative work lies as much with advertising agencies as it does with their clients. "If you demand great creative work, you will get it," she said. "There are certain kinds of clients and client cultures that understand the role of creativity."

Green is convinced that the amount of hard data behind the study indisputably proves the connection between creativity and success.

Some are still skeptical, however. "We have to be careful in assessing what advertising festivals award," said Jose Sala, president of local agency Sala Creativa, which won four Cuspides in 2002. "The implication is that ads that don’t win awards aren’t any good. Yet there are great success stories behind campaigns that never received a creativity award."

According to Sala, advertising festivals are the equivalent of NBA Slam Dunk competitions. "They are fun to watch and the athletes are very talented, but their ability to slam-dunk doesn’t mean their team will win the championship," he said.

Award-winning ads sell in the local market

An informal study of award-winning campaigns in Puerto Rico by CARIBBEAN BUSINESS revealed that the crucial connection between creativity and success is evident in the local marketplace. CB analyzed campaigns for Toyota, Coca-Cola, Suzuki, Heineken, Plaza Carolina, and Dodge Ram that not only won praise for their creativity but also yielded outstanding results for the brands in sales and positive brand awareness.


In the late 1990s, Toyota launched a campaign under the slogan "Maneja Confiado" (Drive Confidently) with the objective of maximizing the brand’s strengths and heritage of quality, durability, and reliability, said Nancy Navales, marketing manager at Toyota de Puerto Rico. "At the same time, we needed to develop advertising that would rejuvenate our image, making our vehicles more desirable and youthful," she said.

To that end, Badillo Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi developed buzz-worthy executions that relied on emotion instead of on the rationality most common in automobile advertising. Badillo Nazca S&S also leveraged the use of nontraditional media, such as billboards and cinema spots, to communicate the "Maneja Confiado" message. "We knew we had to invest significantly in efforts to strengthen the brand for its long-term growth and success," said Navales.

Toyota’s advertising has been garnering awards ever since. The brand took home six Cuspides in 2000, three in 2001, and two in 2002. Sales of Toyota vehicles have also skyrocketed since the campaign was launched.

The total new-car market in Puerto Rico grew by 8% from 1997 to 2000. By comparison, Toyota de Puerto Rico experienced a staggering 39% growth during the same period, said Navales. "In 1998, we captured the No. 1 position in total volume, with a market penetration of 20.6%," she said. "We have sustained and widened that lead since, increasing our market penetration to 25% this year. Currently, one in every four new cars sold in Puerto Rico is a Toyota."

Consumer awareness of the Toyota brand is also sky-high. According to a tracking study by Toyota, top-of-mind awareness of the Toyota brand is exhibited by more than 40% of consumers. What’s more, 63% of consumers who intend to purchase a new car are considering a Toyota. A recent independent study by The Marketing Center identified Toyota as the second most recognized brand in Puerto Rico.

"To a great extent, these outstanding results have been possible thanks to excellent advertising," said Navales. "But we must also recognize that advertising alone wouldn’t have worked without the contributions of our first-class dealer network and our other support programs."


Around the same time that Toyota was introducing "Maneja Confiado," the Coca-Cola brand was experiencing a slump in market share and consumer awareness. In 1998, the marketing team at Coca-Cola in Puerto Rico devised a new strategy to bring local youngsters closer to the brand. The strategy included the introduction of the Coca-Cola Card, a consumer-loyalty program.

The card was rolled out in 1999 with the name "Janga-card" ("janga" is slang for hanging out with friends) and an advertising campaign. According to Adrian Rivera, marketing manager for Coca-Cola in Puerto Rico, the idea was to position the soft drink as another buddy to young consumers.

TV spots for the "Janga" promotion developed by Badillo Nazca S&S and McCann-Erickson won bronze awards at the 2000 and 2002 Cuspide Festival. Another TV commercial dubbed "El Rockero Loco" (The Crazy Rocker) didn’t receive an award, but enjoyed massive consumer recall and popularity in the pop culture.

"The objective of our advertising for ‘Janga’ is to break through the clutter with messages that are irreverent and highlight the role of the brand," said Rivera. "We pay close attention to details such as the clothes that characters wear to make sure young consumers feel we are talking to them." The "Janga" property has evolved to include instant prizes under the caps of 20-ounce bottles, inside 12-packs, and on peel-off coupons on fountain cups. "Janga" has also integrated elements that are relevant to young consumers, such as music.

The results have been impressive: 85% of consumers recall the "Janga" promotion without help and 65% report having used the "Janga-card." Coca-Cola’s market share has grown from 27% in 1997 to 36% by the end of 2002, an 8% annual growth in volume, said Ricky Lopez, region manager for Coca-Cola in Puerto Rico. Lopez added that Coca-Cola’s share of drinkers has increased from 34% to 44% in the same period.

"The key to the success of ‘Janga’ has been the consistency of our messages, which have continued to generate interest among consumers," said Lopez.


Japanese carmaker Suzuki has experienced similar advertising-related growth in Puerto Rico. In 1997, Suzuki held the No. 13 sales spot in the local market. Awareness of the Suzuki brand was almost nil. "It was a big challenge to try to get consumers to mention Suzuki in focus groups," said Timothy Velez, sales & marketing manager for Suzuki del Caribe.

Around that time, Suzuki del Caribe was getting ready to introduce higher-quality models that had sleeker designs and more powerful engines, but were also more expensive. That meant marketing efforts would have to be shifted toward higher-income consumers, who would be more demanding and less aware of the brand than previous Suzuki consumers. "We knew we had to develop high-impact advertising to attract this new group of consumers," said Velez.

Enter EJE Sociedad Publicitaria, the agency that pushed Suzuki to run original advertising that would establish the brand’s personality as fresh, youthful, and innovative. "Obviously, our main objective was to sell cars, but we also had to make our brand attractive," said Velez. Durability became the focus of Suzuki’s advertising, which won one Cuspide award in 2000, two in 2001, and three in 2002.

Suzuki has jumped from being 13th in local car sales to third, said Velez. Suzuki’s Aerio SX model sits in the No. 2 spot in its category, a close second to the Toyota Matrix.

"We’ve managed to highlight Suzuki’s competitive advantages through our advertising," said Velez. "The areas of space, design, and power, which were the brand’s weaknesses, are now our strengths." Velez added that the advertising concepts developed for Puerto Rico are being introduced in many Latin American markets.


According to Luis Alvarez, vice president of the liquor division for local Heineken distributor Mendez & Co., the main objective of the beer’s advertising is to communicate the brand’s attributes as physical and emotional refreshment. "Beer is beer," he said. "But Heineken drinkers know the product’s benefits. In our case, it’s important to establish a bond with consumers who seek much more than good taste. For them, what’s important is how Heineken makes them feel."

Advertising developed by Young & Rubicam for the Heineken brand has consistently won top prizes at Cuspide. In 2000 a TV spot titled "Santa" won silver in its category; in 2001 Heineken’s TV campaign won bronze, and in 2002 one radio spot and two TV commercials were awarded Cuspides.

"Have we achieved our objective? No doubt about it," said Alvarez. "The consistent communication has nurtured the relationship between Heineken and beer drinkers." A recent usage & awareness study by Mendez & Co. showed that the Heineken brand continues to show strong improvement in the critical area of consumer perception, said Alvarez.

Dodge Ram

Carmaker Dodge harnessed the power of a single award-winning print ad to double sales in a three-month period. The ad, which received a bronze Cuspide in 2002, used reverse psychology and an attractive price to clear out the inventory of the Dodge Ram quad-cab pickup whose design would change the following year.

According to Juan Martinez, account director at PentaMark--the BBDO division in charge of advertising for Chrysler International’s Dodge, Chrysler, and Jeep brands--sales of the Dodge Ram increased from an average 19.4 units per month to 79 units during the three months the ad ran in local newspapers. Monthly sales remained steady at an average 46 units during the following three months, he said.

"That was the result of advertising with a clear direction," said Javier Tirado, creative director at BBDO. The decorated piece showed a photo of the side of the truck with two vertical lines running down the edges of the quad-cab--one of the model’s most attractive features. The headline on the ad asked consumers to eliminate the space between the lines to see what other dealers offered for the same price.

Plaza Carolina

Plaza Carolina achieved similar success with an award-winning campaign to announce the launch of the mall’s website.

One month after was up and running, EJE Sociedad Publicitaria developed advertising featuring a laptop computer hanging from a clothes hanger in a store display. The spot, which was awarded a bronze Cuspide in 2002, invited customers to visit the website and participate in a prize drawing.

The objective of the campaign was twofold: to create awareness of the website and to draw traffic to it, said Juliana Castillo, senior marketing manager at Plaza Carolina. Because the site had been up for a month before the campaign was launched, Plaza Carolina’s marketing team was able to measure the advertising’s impact. Traffic and hits to the website doubled in the month after the campaign was launched, said Castillo.

Plaza Carolina continues to use the website to stay in touch with the mall’s customers, said Marketing Coordinator Maria Cristina Castillo. Shoppers who sign up at the site periodically receive e-postcards announcing sales and special events at the mall.

Despite the naysayers, Leo Burnett’s "Does Award-Winning Advertising Sell?" study and CB’s analysis of the link between creativity and success in Puerto Rico clearly demonstrate that ads that win awards also yield positive marketplace results for their brands. "If the study were self-serving, we wouldn’t have to be doing it in the first place," said Leo Burnett’s Green. "The point here is that there are so many great examples [of the correlation between award-winning ads and sales] that it is almost indisputable." To prove it, Green invites all cynics to take a look at the study’s 15 years of solid data.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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