CREATIVITY AND ADVERTISING
Falmouth University, 2014
SCHOOL OF CREATIVE STUDIES AND MEDIA
BANGOR UNIVERSITY, UK
o Centrality of creativity
o Industry perspectives
o Combinatorial perspectives
o Towards an embodied, sensational and less ‘text’-
o Creativity and emergent media
o Empathic media
#CreativityAndAffect #MediaNotBlankVehicles #EmpathicMedia
o Often an agency’s calling card
o Clients: seeking growth, fortune, intangible brand assets,
awareness, action and to persuade
o Jeremy Bullmore, the “Mad Inventor” (contrasted with “Time-and-
o John Hegarty, ‘adjust the viewer’s perspectives in some way, either
attitudinal or visual’ … ‘breaking something down and putting
something new in its place’… ‘Write less, say more’
o David Ogilvy, ‘the work I have to do between now and Tuesday’.
o Stanley Resor, ‘everything else is plumbing’
o Leo Burnett ‘If you insist in being different just for the sake of being
different, you can always come down in the morning with a sock in
o Raymond Rubicam, ‘resist the usual’
o William Bernbach, ‘research kills creative ideas’… ‘both parties
might as well enjoy the process’
o Paul Arden, ‘rely less on safe decisions that go only to familiar
o Dave Trott, ‘that creative briefs harm the creative process’
o Semiotic approaches (most often critical)
o Bisociation (industry): the distinction between the routine
skills of thinking on a single ‘plane’ and the creative act
that operates on more than one plane’ (Koestler, 1970
o Creativity in advertising: divergence and convergence
• Not just playing with existing elements, but redefining
how practice is done and entailing a new structure and
• Arguably, only seen twice in advertising:
– 1960s, Bernbach, DDB (new working practices, levels of
humour, playfulness, layouts, sophistication, or what we can now
define in terms of playful and reflective ‘meta-communication’
[talking with rather than at])
– Behavioural, empathic and technological dimensions: represents
not only bisociation of computer science, profiling and
personalising experiences of advertising (heterogeneity), but
more centrally involves the creation of a new order, structure and
paradigm in which advertising is done.
o Not “what we do we think”, but
“how do we feel?”
o Persuasion – sensation – affect
o Combinatory analyses pass over
in silence situated and experiential
dimensions of advertising
o Towards affect (non-cognitive,
visceral and more inclusive of the
o Also opens up multi-sensory
persuasion rather than hegemony
of the visual
o Not just speculative – check out
Royal Mail DM services
An affective approach recognises ‘qualia’
Qualia… quality advertising… positive affective
For the diligent and philosophically inclined: read up on John Seale and ‘qualia’
(Or fancy ways of talking about everyday occurences)
• Beyond (but including) combinatorial creativity
Advertising: not merely a symbolic industry, but an
– comprised of a specific character, tone and sensation (think back
to McDonalds example)
• That which stimulates before we intellectually process
A renewal of aesthetics
• affective experience, interaction, embodiment, co-
creation, emotional faculties and felt experiences of
contemporary creative advertising
• Philosopher John Dewey:
– ‘An experience has a unity that gives it that name, that meal, that
storm, that rupture of friendship. The existence of this unity is
constituted by a single quality that pervades the entire
experience’ (2005 : 38 [emphasis in original]).
• Or as philosopher Gaston Bachelard puts it,
– a poetic or creative image ‘has touched the depths before it stirs
the surface’ (1994 ): xxiii).
• The point: cognition is a response to an event that has largely
already taken place
It should be said of all art that, in relation to the percepts or
visions they give us, artists are presenters of affects, the
inventors and creators of affects. They not only create them
in their work, they give them to us and make us become
with them, they draw us into the compound.
(Philosophers: Giles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, 2011 : 175)
• “Audiences” are not
spectators, they are
productive parts of events
• Ads are not texts to be ‘read’
from a distance, but agencies
produce ‘bodies’ that interact
• The materiality and
participation, interaction and
Being a bad semiotics student
• Dissecting from a distance
• Beyond representation
• Problems with semiotics for advertising:
– Decontextualisation: by taking advertising out of its context we
offer it up to passive analysis that has little interest in the
sensational dynamics of the field from which an image (and it is
nearly always visual) is drawn.
Failure of semiotics
o Does not take into account capacity for affect
o Does not take into account the context of advertising
because it utterly fails to address the role of media
(indeed, it willfully ignores it [see for example semiotician
of advertising, Judith Willamson,1978])
Affordances and media ecologies
• Affordances = properties (what something allows you to
do with it)
– How might media be understood, harnessed, reformulated and
used a means of sensational expression? (Not just ‘social
media’, but Google Earth and other less obvious media)
• Historically, all good artists and creatives intimately know
• Creatives as hackers
Media ecologies (an interest in interconnection and how
things link together to form wholes greater than the sum of
o Re-packaging applications
o Creating non-standard media objects
o Hacking of media-use assumptions
o Coca Cola Hilltop 2.0
Leonardo and Grow
o Subservient Chicken
(now a mockumentary)
o Also see: Melotweet for
VW Video #foxatplanetaterra
• Less about interruption as
with traditional advertising
• More about co-creative
• ‘Transductive’ character:
that quality that
retrospectively is seen to
emerge at different
phases, points and levels
within the event, and bind
all of these together.
(with some apologies for excess philosophy!)
o Combinatorial perspectives work to an extent, but
o Affect, events, place, qualia, quality, sensations,
o Media matters
o Re-definition/repurposing/hacking of assuptions
o Media ecologies
Towards the task for today:
What affordances and opportunities
are granted by empathic media?
o the capacity to sense, interpret and act on the emotional state of
others, what is significant for others, to make use of people’s
intentions and expressions
o Thus, empathic media entail:
o the capacity for near and remote machines to pick up on the
emotional state of people, their intentions, their expressions and
actions, along with behavioural cues, and act on them.
o Empathic advertising: execution of highly relevant
advertising targeted by what people are doing in their
living rooms, or elsewhere, in view of empathic media.
Methods and Systems for Presenting an Advertisement
Associated with an Ambient Action of a User
(US Patent & Trademark Office, 2012 )
Analytical tools include motion capture and analysis technologies,
gesture recognition technologies, facial recognition technologies,
voice recognition technologies, and acoustic source localization
technologies. These will be employed to detect actions including
movements, motions, gestures, mannerisms of people in a room,
location of people, proximity of people to others, persons’
physical attributes (for example size, build, skin color, hair length,
facial features), one or more voice attributes (for example tone,
pitch, inflection, language, accent, amplification) associated with
persons’ voices, physical surroundings (for example one or more
physical objects proximate to and/or held by people), and/or any
other suitable information associated with people present. Pets,
products, brands, decorative style, objects (for example
photographs and pictures) and other animate or non-animate
objects are also to be scanned and profiled.
The set-top box will determined with people present are adults or
children by means of the physical attributes of the user, determine
the identity of the user (based on the physical and/or voice
attributes of profiled persons), determine a user's mood (based on
the user's tone of voice, mannerisms, demeanor, and so on).
Should more than one person be in the room, the set-top box will
analyse the received data to obtain information associated with
each user individually and/or the group of users as a whole. So,
for example, if the system detects a user is stressed then it may
deliver advertisements for relaxation products. Likewise, if a
domestic argument or disagreement is taking place, the system
may deliver advertisements for marriage or relationship
MA Students: by 1pm please prepare structured
thoughts/mini-presentation on the implications of empathic
media for creative advertising and creative advertisers.
o What opportunities are afforded by empathic media?
o Do they represent a threat to the creative advertising
o How should creative advertising respond to such high
levels of behavioural targeting and heterogeneous
o Please develop other questions and answers of your
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