Creative consumer connections: how to reach your consumers

Kantar’s Creative Effectiveness Awards celebrate the world’s most creative and effective ads. Learn more about how they make that all-important connection with their audience.
01 May 2024

EVP Global Thought Leadership, Kantar

Wyn Jones

Global Knowledge Manager, Creative & Media

To grow, brands need to predispose more people, by creating connections through exposures and experiences. When people are predisposed, they know what your brand means, and how it stands out from others. Advertising’s role is to bring these to life.

Fundamentally, understanding how advertising works is about listening to what people think. Our Kantar Creative Effectiveness Awards  are the only awards judged by consumers.

We showcase the very best digital, social, TV, print, and outdoor ads from thousands researched in 2023. This year, for the first time, we are also awarding creative evaluated by LINK AI, a powerful, artificial intelligence-based solution  for testing digital and TV advertising, trained with consumer insights from our LINK+  norms database of over 260,000 ads. 

Revealed: the most creative and effective ads of 2023

Our winners come from an array of around 30 diverse products and services: they even include an ad for a newly constructed island. Our global reach spanned 16 countries, 41 brands, and 35 clients. Here are our top 3 winners across our categories.

Top 3 digital and social ads

  Brand  Country   Spot Agency 
 Kahlúa  USA  15s Gasp feat. Salma Hayek  Wieden+Kennedy
 2  LEGO  China  LEGO Trademark Campaign China  The LEGO Agency
 3  Timberland  UK  This is Not a Boot – Video UK  INDUSTRY


Top 3 TV ads

Brand Country Spot Agency
1 Heineken® South Africa 150 Whateverken – TVC LePub
2 Cadbury UK & Ireland Yours For 200 Years/Yours Always VCCP
3 Samsung Brazil Neo QLED 2023_More wow than ever_BR BBH


Top 3 print and outdoor ads

Brand Country Spot Agency
1 HSBC UK Cost of Living VML
2 Heineken® UK H150 Whateverken - DOHH LePub
3 Adidas China adidas SS23 Climacool KV (GCA Local) HYPEMAKER China


Top 3 LINK AI tested ads

Brand Country Spot Agency
1 Dettol UK Your Laundry Has Something to Tell You Reckitt’s In-House Agency – Energy Studios
2 Nissan USA Nissan ARIYA “Dualities” TM FF 2 NissanUnited (TBWA\Chiat\Day)
3 Aashirvaad India Hua Kya (in house production)


Take a look at the full list of winners in each category here.

What makes a creatively effective ad?

These ads are assessed in terms of their ability to increase sales, but also to build future demand for the brand. To achieve this, they need to get the fundamentals right:

• Have clear marketing objectives with outstanding execution.
• Be distinctive and meaningfully different.
• Trigger an emotional response.
• Stay close to their consumers.

And then there’s how you do it: Our topical trends from 2023 , strategic sparks from 2022  and five habits from 2021.  And 2024 is no exception with more exciting new themes emerging that will help you make that all important consumer connection.

Creative consumer connections

We have identified five themes across our winning ads that made strong connections: we know this because consumers judged them in the top 1% of our Kantar LINK+ database. Here is a brief overview of the themes. You can find more details and examples from our winners in our booklet and in our on-demand webinar.

1. COURAGE: connecting with bravery

Personal values increasingly affect how consumers make their choices. For marketers, this is an on-going challenge with fears of backlash and negative impact. Our winners show that courage and confidence can be the force behind driving consumer connections. We have seen examples of tackling copycat brands, showing the taboo, and even standing up against consumers to defend principles. Winning brands this year have more confidence in themselves and what they stand for.

Creative bravery was seen in ‘Periodsomnia’, our #9 TV winner, an ad that made the brave decision to create consumer connections by tackling taboos. Bravery was shown by portraying the very real experience of bad sleep during a period, without any sugarcoating. 

Nana/Libresse/Bodyform (Essity) | Periodsomnia | AMV-BBDO 


2. CATASTROPHISING: connecting with drama

Grabbing attention is necessary to achieve creative effectiveness, especially on social media where competition and clutter is fierce. For ads to be effective, they must do more than stop the scroll. This year’s winners used creative hyperbole and drama to grab attention and keep viewers emotionally engaged. 

Our #1 digital and social winner, Facebook ad ‘Gasp’ from Kahlúa, gives us a lesson in cheeky melodrama. The execution draws inspiration from Mexican telenovelas - the masters of over-dramatisation. A ‘boring’ scene escalates into drama with the appearance of the product, followed by Salma Hayek kicking the door down to make a spectacular entrance. This is an excellent use of over-the-top emotions to deliver the brand’s proposition of allowing you to “stir up” your habits. 

Kahlúa | 15s Gasp feat. Salma Hayek | Wieden+Kennedy 


3. CANDID: connecting via real life

Stories are now used widely in social media, to counterbalance picture-perfect posts. Knowing that posts will disappear in 24 hours makes the experience more ephemeral. We all want to share our best moments with the world, but reality is not the same thing, and some brands have chosen a more candid route to create connections.

To reflect the authenticity of everyday life, diversity and inclusion are crucial. This year’s #6 TV winner ‘First Date – for your date’ from Cadbury Dairy Milk is a great example of healthy gender portrayal. We see a simple, heart-warming moment, witnessing an act of kindness in the gifting of the chocolate bar from a son to his father, as a preparation for his upcoming date.

Cadbury Dairy Milk | First Date – for your date | Ogilvy South Africa 


4. CONSISTENT: connecting over time

Celebrating our fifth anniversary of Kantar Creative Effectiveness Awards, the theme of consistency seems particularly apt and shines through in many of our winners. To quote Mark Ritson:

 “It’s a failure that so many marketers pull so many of their campaigns prematurely when their best days are yet to come”. 

Our #1 winning TV ad from Heineken, part of the ‘H150 Whateverken’ campaign, showed consistency across media channels, also winning a place in both our digital/social, and print/outdoor categories. This is a wonderful celebration of Heineken’s long heritage with great acting, spot-on music and humour weaving its way around the brand name (referred to as Hekkene, Heini, Hakkinen). This campaign highlights the brand’s global reach and recognition, in that simply by asking for ‘the green one’, we know we will be served a Heineken. Consistent branding at its best.

Heineken® | H150 Whateverken – TV, DOOH and Social | LePub     


5.COMICAL – connecting on so many levels

Humour, a topic widely discussed across the industry last year, is showing early signs in 2024 of a slight increase in use, particularly across TV, digital and social ads. Marketers and agencies have come to the realisation that whatever uncertainties the world throws at us, we don’t have to let go of a good laugh.

The use of humour in advertising over time


Our #3 TV winner this year from Samsung brings us the wonderful ‘wow’ cat. Researched in around 10 different markets, it uses a style of humour that travels easily without the barrier of language. The humour is built around the brand, ensuring the reward of the cats ‘wows’ are firmly linked to the brand itself. 

Samsung | Neo QLED 2023_More wow than ever_BR | BBH 


Ensuring consumer connections in your advertising

To predispose more people to your brand, you need to start by listening to your consumers. Our winners clearly did. Listen, be brave and encourage a connection with your brand. Taking a creative leap could be the key to winning over your consumers. 
Our congratulations to this year’s winners, and to those shortlisted, and to the marketers and agencies involved. And our thanks for partnering with Kantar, so we can help you to make true consumer connections.

Learn from our winners

Watch our on-demand webinar or download our free booklet  to find out more and learn from our winner’s success. And please get in touch to find out more.



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