1. The most powerful and effective advertising is often the most innovative;
2. You can use powerful and innovative ads to kick-start your advertising budget.
Can innovative creative work really kick-start your ad budget?
First, let me attempt to provide a new definition of great creative advertising. It’s the perfectly appropriate visual and verbal magnification of the selling proposition. I mean “appropriate” to include innovative and inviting.
When you see a commercial or ad, ask yourself, “Does it represent the appropriate magnification of the selling proposition?” Any discrepancy reveals the enormous potential of advertising for incremental success.
This kind of advertising exists beyond creative work that is simply original – whether it’s funny, serious, romantic or odd. It’s not only winningly bright. It’s exactly right.
Why don’t we see more advertising like this?
Advertising is still created through random ideation. We’re given a strategy and we begin to create ideas, based primarily on communicating the primary benefit of the product or service to the target audience. When we think we have a great way to communicate it, we do up the work and recommend it. The shortcoming is that we have no idea what the creative options were. We became too enchanted by the “great” idea to go beyond it; in fact, to go beyond one great idea after another until we hit on one that strikes us as exactly right.
Is there a more sophisticated way to do creative work? Yes. I call it The Creative Exploratory. It’s based on an understanding of the advertising creative process and how to optimize it for success.
After you and your creative teammate study a strategy, you can still begin to ideate randomly. But, as your creative ideas begin to multiply, start to group them, so you can keep track of them and free your mind to continue ideating. If you know the creative terrain pretty well, you might want to jot down some areas before you even begin to ideate.
All you need to define areas in which to group your ideas is a word or two. For instance, if you’re creating a campaign for an all-natural beverage, you’ll very likely create ideas in an area we’ll simply label “Taste.” What about an area called “all natural”? Since “all natural” claims are plentiful at this stage in the category, the claim would more likely be part of a two-claim area, such as “Taste/All Natural.” If all natural is the strategic emphasis, we would reverse the emphasis and subordination by calling it “All Natural/Taste.” If the beverage contains real fruit, you’d factor that in as an area but more likely as a combination area, such as “Taste/Real Fruit.” You might also ask if the heritage of the brand can play a role, etc.
In addition, we also realize that the creative work in each area can spring from different ways of thinking. For example, it can grow out of a product
benefit, the lifestyle of the consumer, or a competitive claim. So, if we wish to keep even more careful tabs on our concepts, we can create sub-areas within each area, such as “Product Based,” “Lifestyle,” and “Competitive.”
It also helps to think in three coronas: the near one, where we find really obvious ideas, which I call the gold at your feet; the middle ground, where most appropriate ideas come from; and the far corona, for the occasional off-the-wall idea that seems just right.
What are the benefits of these organizational techniques? You can explore the creative terrain in an organized way and begin to see its horizons. You can also see which areas seem to be the most fertile and likely to produce the right work.
Most important of all, for the first time in the history of advertising, you can choose the creative work, not just because its greatness excites you, but because you have a knowledge of the creative options. So when you hit on exactly the right, bright advertising, you can recognize it.
What does all this have to do with restarting ad budgets?
Active clients will notice that their advertising is suddenly more successful. And clients who are on the sidelines will take notice.
The truth is, creative advertising has only begun to realize its potential. We still consider the advertising creative process a mystery, instead of the imaginative visual and verbal experimentation it is. It’s revealing that our talk is mostly limited to individual campaigns, commercials and ads. How much do you hear about a fundamental theory of creative advertising?
Bright as much creative work has been, the visual and verbal values too often distract from or otherwise subordinate the selling proposition, instead of magnifying it. And when creative advertising commits this error, it disserves its unrivaled potential for success and shakes the client’s confidence in it. This error is, in fact, why the creative revolution faltered.
Yet when the resources of visual, verbal, and dramatic art are used to magnify the selling proposition, creative advertising can outsell even hard-sell advertising, which is limited to relatively prosaic forms of magnification, such as shouting, excessive repetition, and clunky typography.
The kind of creative advertising I’m advocating has never existed as a general practice.
The advent of creative advertising optimized for success can create more than enough excitement to get client budgets started again. In fact, I believe enough of the right, bright advertising can inspire clients to open their wallets with unprecedented eagerness.
Tom Attea has held executive creative positions at some of New York's finest advertising agencies, including Young & Rubicam and agencies of the Interpublic Group. Today, he is President and Creative Director of his own consulting firm, Heavy Creative, Inc. the company specializes in confidential creative problem-solving for advertisers and agencies. He is also the author of The Secrets of Successful Creative Advertising, which is available on Amazon and at other fine bookstores everywhere.