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Prepared and presented by Mark Brown, Planning Director, Leo Burnett
For IPA/Admap seminar 13th Nov 97 ‘How to make creativity in advertising work harder
(Slide CIIEOB) Creativity. Why do we bother? There are many benefits to producing communication in a more creative way but there is only one real reason. Generating impact. It is all about connecting more effectively. Being more visible. Being more relevant. Thereby, having more impact. (Slide ‘How creativity?) to define and measure
This begs the question, how do we define creativity? How do we know if we are being creative? Who says? Why should we trust them? How do we measure creativity? How do we know if one idea is more creative than another? Let’s look at some ads. How do we know if these are creative? Show films - Jeep, New York Lotto, Anti Drug If they caused any reaction in you then you are in good company because they all won creative awards. We’ll come back to these later. If creativity is all about impact, then we can go some way towards measuring it. There are a number of research methods which aim to quantify the sort of impact that an ad may have. If we consider ‘impact’ to be the ads ability to create awareness in the traditional sense, then Millward Brown can give us an Awareness Index. If we define impact as the ability of an ad to stand out in a break, then we can go some way towards measuring that.
However, most people will tell you that impact is more than that. It is also about relevance. Relevance to the brand and relevance to the consumer. So creativity is about impact, connection, relevance. But impact on who, relevance to who, connection with who? Fundamental to all this is the intended recipient of the creativity. (Slide CIIEOB) Creativity is in the eye of the beholder. (Slide Artist) Let’s for a moment consider the art world. An artist produces a piece of work. (Slide artist with work) Who can say whether it is creative? The artist will believe it to be or else he or she will destroy it. But is it enough that in the opinion of one person it is creative? How many people need to agree before we can deem it truly creative? Let’s say they have a lover. (Slide lover) Let’s say that the artist created the piece for their lover. (Slide artist+work+lover) If their lover finds it creative, if it has impact, if it connects then it is creative even if no-one else agrees. Who determines if a half a cow in formaldehyde is creative? It tends to be the critics who give art validity. In this case Damien Hurst produced his piece with his peers in mind. He knew what they were looking for. He also knew that they had the tools to understand the piece. Most of the general public think it is a piece of nonsense. If it had been intended for mass popularity it would have been deemed a failure. This means that we can only asses an items creativity if we understand it’s relevance for the intended recipient.
(slide creativity is made up of two parts) In other words, the concept of creativity not only involves the idea, but it involves the target. (Slide build)Creativity is in the eye of the beholder. Henry Cole following his Great Exhibition, formed the Museum of Manufacture within which he created a display of mass produced items. His instruction in the catalogue was (Slide quote) ‘The public.... are requested not to look at the articles in the museum as mere objects of vertu... but to examine their beauties or defects with reference to the principles laid down, to aid the examination critical notices will be found...’ In other words don’t consider the merit of the object in isolation. Understand the context including the role and target for whom it is intended. We can’t consider the creative merit of any piece of advertising without fully understanding the nature of the person or people for whom it is intended. How do we therefore judge whether something is creative? (Slide judging creativity) As an industry, one of the only measures of creativity that we have is the industry awards that we have around the world. This is where leading lights in the advertising and marketing world come together and pass their opinion on
the advertising output of the previous 12 months. The question of the relationship between creativity and effectiveness has been explored here today and Graham has referred to the study undertaken by my colleague Donald Gunn, on behalf of Leo Burnett. (Slide do award winning commercials sell) To remind ourselves, the study looked at the 400 most highly awarded ads between 1992 and 1995. (Slide 86.5%) The key finding of our four year study is that 346 (86.5%) of these were associated with marketplace success. Now, if you look at a given market category over a given period of time, what tends to be happening on average is that about one-third of the brands are going up ... one-third are going down ... and one-third are holding. Well, 86.5% is over two and a half times better than 33%. Which basically may suggest that award show judges and our consumer’s have got a whole lot in common in the way they react to advertising. (Slide Tick) Creative advertising works. Lets consider this again. Our universe was not the most effective ads in the world, it was the most highly awarded ads. This was the start point of the study. There is no question that it proves that critically acclaimed ads are much more likely to be successful. But what else can it tell us. These are the ads most widely admired by our peers in the Advertising and Marketing world.
I asked myself the question When assessing the pool of ads did the judges ask themselves ‘Do I like it?’ or did they ask themselves ‘Would the target find it creative?’ We will never know for sure but I thought it interesting to look at the brands featured in these ads. (Slide Judges were target) 80% of these awarded ads could be said to have a target market which includes a group called ‘successful people in advertising and marketing’. Is it possible that the ads deemed to be creative by these people are indeed creative to them because they are the intended target. In other words, they may have been assessing the ideas on the basis of how much impact the ads had on experts in the communications industry. Perhaps it is easier to deem a piece of work creative if it caused a positive first reaction in the individual. Perhaps it is more difficult to judge whether work is creative for other people. It is easy for us to talk about what makes us respond. It is less easy to talk about what makes other people respond. This can become subjective. One creative directors view of a 14 year old Indian girl in Aberdeen may be different to the next creative directors view of that same person. Perhaps in reality for work to be deemed creative, it must work for two audiences. The consumer and the marketing peer group. (slide two audiences) Indeed, it can be argued that it is this very duality which is the making of great creativity. It could be the bringing together of two often discrete audiences and the inherent desire to produce an idea which has impact amongst
both of them which facilitates the creation of really great advertising. Perhaps the trick is to understand what the two audiences have in common in terms of attitudes, behaviour or values which gives a platform for the truly creative idea which resonates with both targets. Having said that, I feel that there can often be an imbalance. As an industry, we know ourselves pretty well. We know what makes us tick. We have an intuitive understanding of what is required for an ad to have impact amongst our peers. In order to give the consumer equal weight, we should know them equally well. As we all know there can often appear to be a conflict of interest within the client and agency brand team. It can seem as if creative teams are creating with the peer group primarily in mind and giving the consumer second billing. It is perhaps not surprising that a client will be keen to re-dress the balance. If every member of the brand team recognised the importance of both targets in achieving great creative work and every member of the brand team knew the two targets equally well then we may have a greater first time success rate. When creative process works well it is because the creators have an intuitive understanding of the consumer target. When account teams and client teams consider the merit of creative work, we must have the same intuitive understanding. We must strive to look beyond the stereotype and see the people within the target group. We will always have a first reaction as individuals. (Slide two stages)
What we must then do is project that reaction onto the target consumer. (Slide build) ‘If I felt that way how would the target feel?’. Too frequently we, we simply go through first stage of this process. The second stage of this process requires an intimate knowledge of our target. This in my mind is a key area for creative techniques. Any method which gives us a deeper insight into our target can be of huge benefit in making creativity work harder. (Slide two points of impact ) This has impact at two points. Firstly in helping the creative process by giving the creative team the most intimate understanding of the target. (Slide build) Secondly it has an impact when the work has been developed. When we come to asses the merit of an idea as an account team or as a client we can be more objective with a common, thorough understanding of the target. We can begin to overcome our subjective point of view and consider the idea within the context for which it is intended. (Slide understanding means we can push further) The better we know our target, the better able we are to be ‘creative’. It liberates us because we are not dealing with stereotypes. It helps us move forward from how we have always thought about the consumer. It allows us to break the rules. We know how far we can push it. If we don’t know them well then we can’t take the same level of risk with the same degree of confidence. I was once involved in the making of a new set of Oxo family films. For the first time one of
these films had no product shot or brand mention. This was only possible because the whole brand team knew the target equally well and understood that they would self complete the message and that we would achieve a very strong take out even without any product or brand mention. Remembering the films I showed at the beginning. All three films have won creative awards. In the case of the Jeep film, it required a clear understanding of the consumer and a high degree of confidence that the target didn’t need to see the car beauty shot. New York lotto delved deeper to find that their target would love to get one over on their bosses. The Anti drug campaign got through the bravado surrounding this topic and uncovered a true human insight making an incredibly emotive ad. Here are some more films where the intimate knowledge of the target led to a different way of doing things. A cereal that doesn’t show the cereal or talk directly about the benefit but recognises that there is a common attitude amongst it’s target. A family fast food chain whose client knew the target so well that they felt comfortable with ads that made reference to sex and featured a divorced couple, and an underwear brand that really knows it’s target as you will see. Show films Special k, McDonalds, Fruit of the Loom How do we get to know our target better. What techniques are available to us to help make creativity work harder? Obviously we have research. But reading research off the page barely touches the surface. We need to get to know the target.
Live with them, talk to them, get to love them a little. We need to do everything we can do break down the stereotypical, or subjective view of some of our more common target segments. There is no such thing as a Frozen Pea consumer. There are only people. Some people happen to buy frozen peas but it is not their buying of frozen peas which defines them, there are more important things in their lives. (Slide Getting intimate) I have heard tell of the researcher who conducted Perrier groups in a Jacuzzi. This may be taking it too far. However, through a fuller understanding of the target we can produce greater creative work. It is therefore a source of competitive advantage. We can achieve this competitive advantage by looking at the target longer, harder, or differently from our competitors. Here are some tips about how we can achieve this clearer insight. (Slide Top Tips) Tip 1 - Don’t rely on researchers to this. Do it yourself. If you want to truly understand breakfast time, go and watch people having breakfast or at least film it. You can talk to people in groups until the cows come home about their breakfast behaviour. But it is only in observing it directly that you would see the military like precision of family breakfast time. Consumers are unlikely to be aware of this because to them it is just normal everyday life . It is our observation which can unearth insights. Comedy often relies on human observation. The comic will see patterns and peculiarity in everyday things that we may not otherwise notice. I think comedy can be an excellent source of ideas as well as an example of the power of human observation. So, a little light
relief for a couple of minutes to illustrate the point. (Show Comedy observation) clip about human
(Slide build) Tip 2 - Abuse research. No research is pure so abuse it as much as you like. Some of the most insightful understanding can come from the brand team spending a day or two with people from their target market. Get them into a hotel, talk to them about their lives, ads, the product category. Of course you will end up influencing them. This is no way to evaluate advertising but it is a great way of getting a common understanding of your consumer. (Slide build) Tip 3 - Use lenses to look through. Semiotics , NLP etc. give us different ways of looking at consumers. Don’t group people together based on their behaviour. Look deeper. There is a wonderful database owned by Synergy Consulting which groups people by their values. This goes far deeper than any behavioural segmentation and gives us a much greater, clearer insight into them and what motivates them. (Slide build) Tip 4 - Use other peoples observations of your target. In exploring night people recently huge insight was gleaned from talking to gatekeepers to the nightlife. Bar staff, Doorman, Taxi drivers etc. They provided unique insight into the target. The Mercedes Skid marks ad demonstrates what it feels like not to be a Mercedes owner. This insight into the non-target has then been used to produce a feel good ad for Mercedes owners. (Slide build) Tip 5 - Don’t use consumers to be the final arbiter of creativity. Use your
intimate understanding of them. The only way of knowing how consumers will react to advertising in the real world is by showing it to them in the real world. At its best, research can only approximate that. It is incredibly difficult for people to imagine how they might feel in the future. If we use consumers as arbiters we will only find out if an idea fits with their current perception. We will not learn about how things could be. We are paid to use our judgement to find out how people might feel about something. It is too easy to use consumers as a crutch to avoid using our judgement. Knowing them better means that we should rely on them less to tell us we are doing the right things. It is far better to invest in research heavily before the creative process starts than to use it as an evaluative tool. By spending the money early we get the benefit of it throughout the creative process. (Slide build) Use consumers as a source of inspiration not as a means of limitation. To finish with I’d like to show you some more ads. Try to imagine the situation before these ads were made. We’re in the daily newspaper market. We need to create a unique positioning which the editor, marketing department and advertisers are excited by. I think you will see that the only way in which these ads could have been made is if everyone involved had the same clear and profound understanding of the target market. (Show Daily Star films) Thank You.