Fresh ICA Evidence Highlights Damaging Extent of Canada’s Short-Term Marketing Focus

Fresh ICA Evidence Highlights Damaging Extent of Canada’s Short-Term Marketing Focus

  • New effectiveness report shows Canada's brands have greater short-term than those in other markets.
  • Higher investment in brand-building will boost ad effectiveness.

Brands in Canada are missing out on profitable growth due to an over-reliance on short-term tactics at the expense of longer-term brand-building.

That's the headline finding of the ICA's new report, The Alchemy of Effectiveness: A Focus on Canada, co-authored by effectiveness expert Peter Field and former Campaign deputy editor, Ian Darby.

Supported by Environics Analytics, LinkedIn and thinktv, the report is based on analysis of the ICA's effectiveness database, which contains the confidential data submitted alongside entries to the Effie Awards. It covers campaigns that were entered in both 2021 and 2022.

The report finds that short-term, tactics-based marketing is becoming more dominant in Canada. Campaigns deploying primarily short-term sales objectives rose from 55% of submitted cases in 2021 to 60% in 2022.

It emerged that 54% of campaigns analysed ran for less than a quarter of a year, which is highlighted by the authors as a concern due to evidence that "shorter campaigns under-perform on long-term business success metrics" including market share growth, profitability growth, and attracting new customers.

The report uncovered that the proportion of short-term campaigns in Canada was higher than the percentage of these campaigns found on the equivalent UK and Australia data sources for the same period. 

In light of this, the authors call for a re-set among Canadian brands to restore a healthy balance between longer-term brand-building and shorter-term tactics. A 60:40 split in terms of overall spend in favour of brand-building activity is identified as the optimum for typical consumer-focused advertisers.

The Alchemy of Effectiveness: A Focus on Canada report also details how and why shorter-term campaigns are less profitable, and highlights that building a brand over time boosts effectiveness significantly. It emphasises that advertising based on shorter-term goals, such as driving immediate sales, has a clear role. However, increased over-emphasis on this approach is a problem, say the authors, because those brands that committed budget to brand building, compared to those allocating nothing at all and focused solely on short-term sales, showed a 27% uplift in long-term business effects. 

Featuring case studies from some of Canada's most famous brands, the report highlights how advertisers can optimise their advertising activity to achieve an ideal balance of brand-building and short-term impact. 

An emphasis on emotion above more rational messages is one route towards more effective campaigns, and the report also demonstrates how media investment can be enhanced to achieve greater effectiveness. It shows how spend on brand-building channels such as TV is underweight due to an over-emphasis on performance-based media and targeting to deliver short-term sales. 

Peter Field, the report's co-author, says: "Overbalancing towards a short-term, tactical approach obviously has its attractions but risks mortgaging the future of the brand for temporary gain. It doesn’t make sense in either the good times or bad. Canada has clearly been strongly seduced by short-termism, and it is a vital role of marketing to push back against the quarterly pressures and seek balance with long-term growth."

To watch the Alchemy of Effectiveness: A Focus on Canada 2022 webinar with Peter Field in partnership with LinkedIn click here

For a copy of the Alchemy of Effectiveness: A Focus on Canada 2022 click here

For a copy of The Alchemy of Effectiveness: A Focus on Canada 2021 click here

For more information please contact Leah Power