WARC 100 Reveals the World’s Top Campaigns, Agencies and Brands for Effectiveness

  • Ariel’s Dads #ShareTheLoad is world’s top effectiveness campaign
  • Clemenger BBDO Melbourne, Starcom Chicago and DigitasLBi Chicago lead agency rankings
  • BBDO Worldwide is top network for 5th consecutive year
  • Omnicom leads holding company table
  • Burger King ranked #1 brand. Unilever ranked #1 advertiser

Global, 26 February 2018– WARC, the international authority on advertising and media effectiveness, has released the results of the 2018 WARC 100, an annual global index of the world’s top marketing campaigns and companies based on their business impact.

WARC 100 tracks the performance of campaigns, brands and agencies in more than 70 of the most important global, regional and national marketing effectiveness and strategy competitions around the world.  Now in its fifth year, the WARC 100 is based on a rigorous methodology developed in consultation with Douglas West, professor of marketing at Kings College London.

The top-ranked campaign, ‘Dads #ShareTheLoad’ by BBDO India for Ariel Matic, Procter & Gamble’s premium laundry detergent brand, built on its previous ‘Share the Load’ campaign by persuading dads to do more laundry in order to promote gender equality. Ariel Matic generated a 42% increase in unaided brand awareness, $12.3 million in earned media coverage, and conversations on social media and sales growth in excess of previous campaigns.

In second place is ‘The Swedish Number’ by INGO Stockholm for The Swedish Tourist Association, which manages hotels and hostels across Sweden. The purely PR-driven approach saw more than 32,000 Swedes sign up to take more than 200,000 calls from abroad helping STF boost its renewal figures and attract new members.

Ranked third is the ‘Care Counts’ campaign for Whirlpool by DigitasLBi Chicago.  The appliances manufacturer installed washers and dryers in schools to give disadvantaged students access to laundry facilities, resulting in 90% of the participants increasing their school attendance rate. The programme has been expanded to nearly 60 schools across the US. 

Three themes have emerged from the world’s top effectiveness campaigns:

  • Purpose is effective when brands have a credible role. Three purpose-driven campaigns appear in the top 10. ‘Dads #ShareTheLoad’ for Ariel, Whirlpool’s ‘Care Counts’ and ‘Imagine the Possibilities’ for Barbie are all examples of the commercial success that can be driven when a brand’s purpose is intrinsically linked to its product.
  • Strategies with PR baked in are becoming the norm. Three campaigns in the top ten used a PR-led strategy to drive brand awareness and increase sales: ‘Meet Graham’ for Australia’s Transport Accident Commission, Burger King’s ‘The McWhopper Proposal’ and ‘Van Gogh BnB’ for the Art Institute of Chicago.
  • New takes on long-term ideas. Several of the highly effective initiatives ranked, such as ‘Dads #ShareTheLoad’, ‘Hungerithm’ for Snickers, the John Lewis Christmas campaigns and Always’ ‘Girl Emojis’, show how blockbuster ideas can be intelligently followed up with brands investing in long-term strategies rather than quick wins for immediate gain.

Australia’s Clemenger BBDO Melbourne tops the creative agencies for effectiveness table for the first time having produced two top 10 campaigns: ‘Meet Graham’ and ‘Hungerithm’. New Zealand’s Colenso BBDO follows in second place with work for Burger King and DB Export contributing to their score. 

Starcom Chicago has returned to the top of the media agencies for effectiveness ranking with almost triple the points of the second-placed agency.

Eight of the top digital/specialist agencies for effectiveness are from the US, with Chicago-based agencies making up the top three. DigitasLBi Chicago takes poll position.  

BBDO Worldwide remains the most awarded network for the fifth year in a row, having retained this rank since WARC 100 began in 2014. Its agencies contributed to four of the top 10 campaigns and 19 of the top 100.

Andrew Robertson, President and Chief Executive, BBDO Worldwide, says: “Smarter thinking unleashes the power of creativity to make greater impact. That’s why leading the WARC 100 is so meaningful.”

For the second time Omnicom Group is the most awarded holding company, having previously held top position in 2014. Omnicom Group owns four of the top 10 agency networks.

John Wren, President and CEO, Omnicom Group, says: “Producing great work that drives results for our clients is why we come to work every day. It is especially gratifying to see Omnicom recognized by WARC as having five of the top ten individually ranked agencies, three of the top five networks, and being the top-ranked holding company. I could not be prouder of our teams.”

Burger King improved its ranking by 30 places to reach the top brand for effectiveness, with the ‘McWhopper Proposal’ campaign in the top 10 and ‘Backyard Burger King’ in the top 100. The continuing performance of Ariel’s ‘Share the Load’ campaign has contributed to the brand retaining its second place.

Unilever was the most effective advertiser for the third time, having previously held this top position in 2015 and 2014. Unilever has four campaigns in the top 100 –  Lifebuoy’s ‘#HelpAChildReach5’, Knorr’s ‘Love At First Taste’, ‘The Vaseline Healing Project’ and ‘The radicalisation of Persil’ –  with a further 50 campaigns across all competitions contributing to its tally.

Keith Weed, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Unilever, says: “It’s a great honour to be recognised by WARC as Most Effective Advertiser again. I’m hugely proud of our marketers, working hard to drive campaigns with purpose that cut through to consumers and make a real impact.”

USA retains its place as the top country in the world with 36 of the top 100 campaigns, compared to 12 from the UK and 12 from Australia.

The most highly ranked campaigns and companies in WARC 100 are:

Top 10 world’s top effectiveness campaigns

RankCampaign titleBrandAgencyPoints
1Dads #ShareTheLoadArielBBDO India127.1
2The Swedish NumberSwedish Tourist AssociationINGO Stockholm95.4
3Care CountsWhirlpoolKetchum Chicago84.6
4Meet GrahamTransport Accident CommissionClemenger BBDOMelbourne82.5
5=The McWhopper ProposalBurger KingY&R Auckland80.7
5=Van Gogh BnBArt Institute of ChicagoLeo Burnett Chicago80.7
7HungerithmSnickersClemenger BBDO Melbourne78.9
8John Lewis Christmas CampaignsJohn Lewisadam&eveDDBLondon78.4
9RewordHeadspace National Youth Mental Health FoundationLeo Burnett Melbourne72.2
10Imagine the PossibilitiesBarbieBBDOSan Francisco70.0

Top 5 creative agencies for effectiveness

1Clemenger BBDO MelbourneMelbourne, Australia186.6
2Colenso BBDOAuckland, New Zealand174.2
3BBDO New YorkNew York, USA139.8
4BBDO IndiaMumbai, India124.9
5Droga5New York, USA114.9

Top 5 media agencies for effectiveness

1StarcomChicago, USA269.6
2MindshareIstanbul, Turkey86.3
3Spark FoundryChicago, USA77.9
4PHDShanghai, China76.4
5Manning Gottlieb OMDLondon, UK65.5

Top 5 digital/specialist agencies for effectiveness

1DigitasLBiChicago, USA90.7
2KetchumChicago, USA84.6
3Leo Burnett/Arc WorldwideChicago, USA79.9
4Weber ShandwickNew York, USA54.4
5Team Unilever ShopperNew York, USA51.1

Top 5 agency networks for effectiveness

1BBDO Worldwide1454.9
2Ogilvy & Mather Advertising738
3McCann Worldgroup699.1
4DDB Worldwide553.4
5OMD Worldwide536.4

Top 5 holding companies for effectiveness

RankHolding companyPoints
1Omnicom Group3472.7
3Interpublic Group2157.2
4Publicis Groupe1944.1

Top 5 brands for effectiveness

1Burger King153.3

Top 5 advertisers for effectiveness

4Procter & Gamble327.9

Top 5 countries for effectiveness

5New Zealand531.8

The WARC 100 is now part of Gunn Report, which recently published Gunn 100, a ranking of campaigns and companies based on creativity.

Commenting on WARC 100, Emma Wilkie, Managing Director, Gunn Report, says: “This year’s WARC 100 once again confirms that creative approaches to marketing translates into marketplace success, with nearly all the top 10 campaigns also recognised in Gunn 100. Long-term strategies continue to be an important element to long-term success but we’re also seeing a significant number of purpose-led and PR-led campaigns doing particularly well in achieving commercial objectives.”

The full WARC 100 rankings – including the world’s top 100 campaigns for effectiveness, top 50 creative, media and digital/specialist agencies for effectiveness, agency networks, brands, advertisers, countries and top holding companies as well as commentaries, the work and credits – is available by subscription on www.warc.com/gunnreport.

The Gunn media rankings will be released in March.