Advertising trends: How to win in a digital world

Kantar’s Creative Effectiveness Awards celebrate the world’s most creative and effective ads, and we reveal what makes them so great.
18 April 2023
A dynamic world for creative

EVP Global Thought Leadership, Kantar

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Today’s fast-moving digital world presents challenges for marketers and their agencies. So, what makes an ad creative and effective in an ever-evolving digital landscape?

Getting your creative right in a multichannel environment is challenging, and the key to successful campaigns is to learn throughout the creative process. Kantar’s Creative Effectiveness Awards showcase great creative content from around the world and help advertisers and their agencies understand what makes effective advertising. We highlight the top digital, social, TV, print and outdoor ads from over 13,000 that we tested with our Link ad testing solution in 2022. What makes our awards unique is that consumers are the judges. We want to help our clients be the best at getting better with their advertising - so let’s learn from the best.

Revealed: the most creative and effective ads of 2022

This year, we saw winning ads from an ever-expanding range of products and services in over 20 categories across 16 countries. Here are our top 3 winners across our media categories.

Top 3 digital and social ads






Cadbury Dairy Milk


Garage 30s Digital



Twinings (Italy)


Tealand - YouTube

Saatchi & Saatchi Italy / adapted by Raya Chile


Heineken 0.0


When you drive never drink (Riding is still driving)


Top 3 TV ads






KFC Héritage


KFC Héritage

Havas Paris


Tennent's Lager


Tennent's Lager - It's a Wonderful Pint (60')

Studio Something




Live sustainable #LikeABosch

Jung von Matt / Pingüino Torreblanca

Top 3 print and outdoor ads






Starbucks Chilled Coffee


Starbucks chilled coffee – OOH

Landor & Fitch


The North Face


It’s More than a Jacket – Summit Series

The North Face Creative Team





Martin et Karczinski

Have a look at the videos of our top 10 winners in each category.

What makes a good ad?

To be effective, ads need to:

  • Have clear marketing objectives with brilliant execution
  • Be distinctive and meaningfully different
  • Trigger an emotional response
  • Stay close to their consumers
  • Stay up-to-date in an industry that never rests

Previous years’ Creative Effectiveness Awards have confirmed that these principles hold true. Our strategic sparks from our 2022 awards and our 5 habits from 2021 confirm these basic truths. And this year we’ve seen some exciting new trends emerging.

Topical trends for creativity

We identified 5 topical trends across winning ads that make them truly stand out to the consumers who judged them via Kantar Link solutions. Here is a brief overview of these trends. You can find more detail and examples of great advertising in our booklet and in our on-demand webinar.

1. ESCAPE ROOMS: creating other worlds

The ongoing challenges and crises of recent years have led to a search for other realities and a sense of escapism. We have seen some ads focusing on nostalgia, and others flying into the creative possibilities of the future, such as our Disneyland Paris winner The Infinite Parade - a dynamic example of experiential escapism through an immersive visual narrative, as the viewer and the characters transition between the multiverses of Disneyland.

Disneyland Paris, The Infinite Parade – BETC


2. TOUCH MY SOUL: How emotions create memories

Emotions play a strong role in making ads memorable. The more emotionally charged an event is, the more likely people will remember it. Our winners include many examples of heartfelt story-telling. And music was often used as a powerful tool to elevate emotional connection. KFC Héritage, our #1 TV winner this year, is a great example of this.

KFC France, KFC Héritage - Havas Paris


3. MAKE LIFE EASY: Simplicity in complex times

In a world of technology and information overload, making life easy is a new shortcut. The refreshing and straightforward route of clear, simple, direct messaging was evident across a number of this year’s winners. Our Facebook winner, Lurpak: The Cook Makes Christmas, embodies the full emotive and nostalgic feel of Christmas with the brand as the hero, perfectly suited to its digital context, and does so in a very short time.

Lurpak: The Cook Makes Christmas - Accenture & TAG


4. A BETTER WORLD: how advertising takes on responsibility

Many of our winners this year continue working towards a better world for us all - a rising trend in advertising. The differences we see this year include featuring genuine, brand-related messages, told with a stronger sense of positivity. AWS’s When I grow up beautifully portrays an older character as socially vibrant and taking advantage of modern technology. Our Link database shows how shockingly under-represented this group is, with only 5% of ads including characters over the age of 65.

AWS, When I grow up – Joint London


5. YOU MADE THEM SMILE! – bringing the fun back into advertising

And finally, this year we see a slight turnaround in the declining use of humor in advertising. Humor was prevalent in our winning ads, bringing light relief, helping people to forget their troubles, and providing a welcome distraction – even when addressing serious topics. Our Heineken 0.0 ad, When you drive never drink (Riding is still driving), finds a humorous way to remind us of how to stay safe.

Ads are starting to make people smile again 😊

Chart showing the trend in use of humour in advertising

Align your advertising with today’s trends

Our Creative Effectiveness Awards clearly demonstrate that advertising has a bigger role to play than just informing people about available products and services. Advertising needs to be cleverly conceived, but also needs to be kept simple and differentiated from the competition. That’s the communications conundrum. It means that staying on top of industry trends is key.

We often talk about the foundations of good advertising; but we hope our analysis of advertising trends will help you stay up-to-date and ensure your advertising thrives in a multichannel, digital-led environment. And the key to this is fast, effective consumer feedback and insights, so you can make sure your advertising resonates and meets objectives.

Congratulations to this year’s winners and runners-up for showing it’s all possible, and for partnering with Kantar to make sure they are the best at getting better.

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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