psLondon News | IPA EffWorks Global 2022 | The truth about marketing effectiveness

Reimagining marketing effectiveness

16 November 2022

Ellie AtkinsonStrategist

In October, the psLondon team headed to the IPA’s EffWorks Global 2022 event – a week-long celebration of the best emerging perspectives and evidence-based decision-making research on marketing effectiveness. 

Surrounded by industry greats, and having spent two days thinking differently about what effectiveness means, they came away with some powerful new insights into reimagining effectiveness at an organisation-wide scale.

1. Effectiveness isn’t always tangible

All too often, effectiveness is pinned to the things we can see, the things we can understand, and the things we can measure. However, McKinsey found that the fastest growing companies invest 2.6x more in intangibles than low growers across sectors, raising to as high as 5.5x within the financial services sector.i

“Intangibles” are non-physical assets like brand equity or intellectual property – elements that are often more unseen, unmeasurable, and significantly more undervalued. Understanding effectiveness must start with acknowledging the power of these key metrics – shifting our perspectives will allow us to uncover new opportunities for driving both marketing and overall brand success.

2. Effectiveness comes from truth

Truth is what people connect with.

First, this means finding the truth about your audience and rooting your brand firmly within this truth. As audiences, particularly Gen Z, increasingly reject brands whose values don’t align with theirs, we see an ever-growing need – and opportunity – to connect on the basis of genuine human values.

Second is ensuring every piece of activity that follows stays true to these values, enabling the development of rich, long-term relationships with audiences to drive meaningful results.

Thankfully, this is something we happen to be pretty good at here at psLondon. Whether you’re in the education marketing space or not, our Head of Insight and Strategy Kendra Rogers published an essential whitepaper on exactly this. ‘Enrolled at First Sight’ explores the opportunity that’s out there when we look beyond the superficial and dive into the real values of our audiences.ii

3. Effectiveness is contingent on brand

The team reflected on a powerful talk by the PZ Cussons CEO Jonathan Myers and Chief Marketing Transformation Officer Andrew Geoghegan. Owning brands such as Carex and Sanctuary Spa, between 2013 and 2019 the organisation had seen seven years of successive decline from £883m to £603m in revenue.iii 

What upturned the downward trajectory? An investment in brand.

“The first and most important thing we had to do was declare: ‘We’re in the business of building brands.’”Jonathan Myers, CEO of PZ Cussons

In just two years, they turned their decline into a 10% growth in revenue. Critical to the success was the emotional connection that this investment in brand enabled.Carex for instancewas failing to differentiate without an emotionally-led positioning. After implementing their new platform “life’s a handful”, they received a campaign ROI over double the FMCG benchmark and gained 2.6% market share.

4. Effectiveness is built together

This emotional connection is not just crucial externally, but internally too. Myers and Geoghegan spoke to the critical difference between being marketing-led and being brand-led – that marketing feels like the responsibility of one team or department, but brand belongs to everyone.

“Everybody can put their hand up and say they’re a brand builder, whereas only the marketing teams might think themselves involved in the marketing-led strategy” Jonathan Myers, CEO of PZ Cussons

Rather than leaving the responsibility with only one team, getting every single person invested in the brand identity and vision is where effectiveness is truly born. But for this to happen, genuine collaboration is required. Setting goals together, workshopping brand values and being transparent about business metrics are just some of many ways to build buy-in with the company vision and brand identity.

5. Effectiveness is creativity

“By far the biggest driver of advertising effectiveness (measured by sales lift) was the creative.” Nielsen, 2017 iv

An analysis of over 500 campaigns by Nielsen uncovers a powerful finding – and this is certainly not the only evidence of the importance of creativity in marketing. McKinsey have reported that companies that engaged with creativity were 16% more innovative and 70% had above-average returns to shareholders.v

The influence of creativity must be the most powerful testament to the potential of looking beyond traditional expectations of effectiveness. We encourage you to truly explore how you define effectiveness – in doing so, you might discover opportunities you might never have imagined. 



i McKinsey & Company, Getting tangible about intangibles (2021)

ii Marketing Week, How the CEO and CMO relationship underpinned PZ Cussons’ turnaround (2022)

iii psLondon, Enrolled at first sight: why desperation in University recruitment isn’t working (2021)

iv CreativeX, Why aren’t brands investing in creativity? (2020)

v McKinsey Digital, Creativity’s bottom line (2017)

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