Is The Era Of The Big Idea Dead?

CANNES, FRANCE — The Cannes Festival of Creativity kicked off Saturday June 17 with a session from McKinsey & Co. that addressed the correlation between winning Cannes Lions and financial performance.    

In his keynote presentation at the Debussy Theater, McKinsey & Company's Jason Heller introduced the Award Creativity Score (ACS), an index that weighs three factors: the total number of Lions won by competitors between 2001 and 2016, with more points assigned for the most prestigious awards; the breadth of categories represented; and consistency over time, based on the number of years a company has been recognized. 

"We wanted to see if there is a direct correlation to foster creativity," says Heller.

McKinsey found the most creative companies, based on their ACS, did better than peer firms on two key business metrics: financial performance and McKinsey’s Innovation Score. However, this doesn’t mean there is a straight-line path between climbing the podium at Cannes and besting market indices or out-innovating competitors, he cautions. 

The most creative companies exhibit a set of four business practices that "we believe drive their marketing creativity, their ability to innovate, and their capacity to translate those virtues into business value," says Heller. 

First, creative companies hardwire creativity and innovation into their daily practice. From the top down, these companies see creativity as an investment worth time and money.  

Second, companies with high scores are customer fanatics. "What makes customers tick?" he asks. The ones with high ACS scores understand the "day-to-day lives of their customers from observation," not the "power-point version."  

Third, companies need to "feed the need for speed to turn insights into action," says Heller. Three in four companies with high ACS scores consider themselves fast decision makers versus 50% of their lower-scoring peers. And 11% of companies with high ACS scores label themselves risk-takers. Firms with lower score didn’t.   

The mind-set to "fail fast" is valuable, but not seen much in real life as companies are too risk-adverse, he says. Companies with high ACS scores not only move faster in the marketplace, but do so in the right way to create value. 

Lastly, companies with high ACS scores understand the importance to "adapt or die," says Heller. "The era of the big idea or campaign is dead." There isn't just one big moment, he says. Creativity isn't about conceiving or executing an idea but adapting to meet customers where they are and how to actually affect them.

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