No, not that creation story or in fact anything related to religious belief systems and the origins of our existence. We are going to look at the story of creativity in marketing. Think about an advert that you have seen at some point in your life, think about a brand that you actually like – what is driving that memory and that affection? It’s almost certain that, in the case of the advert, it isn’t the particular place or time that you saw it, say the TV or a bus stop at 10pm. Nor, in the case of the brand, is it likely to be the core benefit of the product the brand provides, after all the commodity provides that too. It’s something else. Something less tangible, more difficult to quantify but no less powerful for it.
Search your soul and you will find that the reason you remember these specific things is creativity.
Adverts are good, products are nice
We experience so many adverts every day that you may not think a great deal about them. They are background noise that we try to avoid. There are lots of different elements to an advert from the product, the brand, the creative, the offer, the media channel and the cost to name a few. All of these things can have an impact on whether the advert is effective or not. Effective that is from the point of view of the owner of the advert, the financial sponsor, who is aiming to get the viewer to come around to their way of thinking. These days a great deal of focus is placed on the media channel, the time of day, the frequency and so. Many people appear to believe that these are the most important determinants of an advert’s effectiveness. They focus on how the messages reaches the customer.
So it is similar with the work a brand carries out to build desired associations with the brand. A great deal of effort is ploughed into awareness raising, reach and exposure. Not always enough into distinctiveness and meaning.
In both cases the areas where people are focusing their energies are important but they are only part of the picture. It’s easy to get distracted by these details because the platforms we now use to share our marketing messages want you to think about them a lot. That’s how they make money. The more you think about them and obsess on them the more money you spend and the more they make.
Nothing wrong with thinking about those things. Adverts are good. Products are nice. But there are other things to think about at the same time…
More often than is sensible, the creativity contribution to marketing success has been undervalued in recent times. It is easier to ‘measure’ things like frequency and reach (although the ones selling you the space are also telling you the results) than it is to quantify the impact of creativity. People gravitate towards easy.
Creativity amplifies your marketing effectiveness every time it is observed. You pay for it once and it does the work every time without it costing more – unlike paying for media. It doesn’t wear out. Good creative has a way of working its way inside people’s heads and jumping between minds. It is wild, it is unknowable, it is human. That is why humans respond to it better than to non-creative messages. We are not talking about smart graphics or pretty colours here although they may be part of the equation. We are talking about creative ideas. The creative thinking behind the execution. That is where the magic lies.
Now, we all use the same media channels, Google, Facebook, TV, Radio, whatever. If you have £100 to spend on media then you have the same resources as any other person who has £100 to spend. The playing field is level from that point of view.
Of course you can be better at precisely how you spend your £100, on which channels, in what combination and at what times, but you still only have £100 to spend. You can spend your way to success (as measured by reach etc) but you will always hit a limit.
The only way to gain any significant advantage on that spend and make more of an impact on your target audience is through creativity.
Let’s think about advertising. Research shows that only around 16% of adverts are correctly recalled and attributed to the relevant brand and product. A massive 84% goes missing and the money spent is wasted. That’s pretty poor by any standards. To raise your game you should focus on and invest in good creative. Now, those guys down at the Harvard Business Review also did some research and they concluded that for every currency unit (£ in our case) spent on a highly creative advertising campaign it had, on average, double the impact on sales than the same spend on a non-creative campaign. Compelling eh? Other research is available.
Creativity increases recognition, engagement, recall, attribution and well, it often just makes you smile which is nice and endears you to what’s in front of you.
The Power of Dreams
Here is an example. I recently saw a Honda advert on the TV. I can’t remember the advert, or what model of car it was for. Which isn’t good and proves my point before I’ve made it. The only reason I remember it at all is because of the stark contrast vs some exceptional Honda adverts from over a decade ago. The old ones used to shine from the TV like beacons of wonderfullness and snuggle down in a warm corner of your mind.
If you have the time watch a couple of these…
Tell me that they aren’t great. That they don’t make you think, entertain, surprise and engage. They do. You can’t. They span quite a few years from around 2010 to around 2016. Brilliant. I never bought a Honda but these adverts made me want to.
Now here is the most recent one.
Well, you can see the difference. It’s pretty forgettable which is why I forgot it until I went looking for it. In fact I’m not even sure it is the one I saw on the TV it’s that forgettable. Even the deliberate attempt to inject something memorable can’t save it – poor pigeon.
In a world where many car adverts conform to a tight norm – polished car, zipping about beautiful landscape / modern cityscape, driven by a media target profiled human who is inexplicably happy to be driving – this latest effort from Honda is just a shade away from bog standard.
What it is a long way away from is a powerful creative idea that underpins it like its predecessors and produces something that an observer will write a blog about a decade or so later. Which is where we are now and which demonstrates the amplifying, lasting power of creativity in marketing.