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The Case for Creativity


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In the advertising and marketing industries, the debate has raged for decades. Do high levels of creativity make advertising more effective? Or is creativity just irresponsible folly practiced by creative people looking to win their next award? The arguments of both advocates and cynics have until now been based on conjecture and anecdotal evidence. The Case for Creativity brings the debate to a conclusion, telling the story of two decades of international research into the link between creativity and business results.

Published in: Business, Technology

The Case for Creativity

  1. 1. Two decades’ evidence of the link betweenimaginative marketing and commercial success December 2012
  2. 2. Is more creative advertising more e!ective advertising?This presentation is a summary of the "ndings of "fteen studies comparing thee!ectiveness of more creative and less creative advertising, agencies and companiesThe studies were conducted in North America, UK, Europe, Asia & Australasia,and span two decades from 1990 to 2010They were conducted by university academics, industry researchers, the IPA andMcKinsey & CompanyThey all reach the same conclusion, and there are no known studies that con#ictwith that conclusionThe studies are discussed in more detail in the book ‘The Case for Creativity’by James Hurman
  3. 3. More creative advertising is more e!ective advertisingIn 1996 and 2002, while at Leo Burnett, Donald Gunntwice produced his ‘Do Award Winning Commercials Percentage of advertising campaigns shown toSell?’ study. produce a business resultIn both cases he collected the case histories of the 400 mostawarded recent campaigns in the world, along withquanti"ed evidence of their business results.He found that 86.5% and 82% of those awarded campaigns,respectively, had met or exceeded their clients objectives.This is an improvement on advertising in general, which is 84%! 70%!shown to generate a sales result around 70% of the time.Proving not only that creatively awarded advertising tendsto be e!ective, but also that it tends to be more e!ective Creatively awarded Advertising inthan advertising in general. advertising generalSOURCE: Gunn, ‘Do Award Winning Commercials Sell?’ 1996, 2002; Jones, ‘When Ads Work’, 1995; McDonald, How frequently should you advertise?, 1996; Brandes, How advertising works in Germany, 1996!
  4. 4. More creative advertising is more e!ective advertisingIn 2010, Peter Field, an independent contractor to theUK’s IPA, studied the 257 IPA E!ectiveness Award Average points of market share growth per 10 pointswinning campaigns since 2000. of excess share of voiceHe contrasted the campaigns that had won a majorcreative award against those that hadn’t, and measuredtheir relative e!ectiveness.His "rst "nding was that the creatively awardedcampaigns were eleven times more e$cient atgenerating a market share increase. 5.7! 0.5! Creatively awarded Non-creatively awarded advertising advertisingSOURCE: Field, ‘The Link Between Creativity and Effectiveness’, 2010  
  5. 5. More creative advertising is more e!ective advertisingPeter’s second "nding wasthat the creatively awarded E$ciency of creatively awarded campaigns vs non-awarded campaignscampaigns were much morecertain to achieve that result.The less creative campaignswere not only less e$cient,but also less predictable thanthe creatively awarded ones.This suggests a departurefrom the conventionalwisdom that a more creativeapproach is a ‘riskier’ one.SOURCE: Field, ‘The Link Between Creativity and Effectiveness’, 2010  
  6. 6. More creative advertising is more e!ective advertisingPeter’s third "nding was that Advertising E!ectiveness Success Rate: creatively- vs non-creatively awardedthe creatively awardedcampaigns achieved a higher‘E!ectiveness Success Rate’than the non-awardedcampaigns.This is a measure of achieving‘very large business e!ects’, ie,signi"cant improvements inmarket share, penetration,pro"tability, etc. 75%! 59%! 88%! 80%!The creatively awardedcampaigns were shown to be10% more e!ective on a highspend, and 27% more e!ective Awarded Non-awarded Awarded Non-awardedon a low spend. LOW ESOV SPEND <6% HIGH ESOV SPEND >6%SOURCE: Field, ‘The Link Between Creativity and Effectiveness’, 2010  
  7. 7. More creative advertising is more effective advertisingPeter’s fourth finding was that as the campaigns gotmore creatively awarded (i.e. achieved a higher Gunn The most creatively-awarded campaigns are alsoReport score for achieving greater quality and the most e!ectivequantity of awards) they got more effective.Campaigns that produced a higher number of verylarge business effects (i.e., significant improvements inmarket share, penetration, profitability, etc) also had ahigher Gunn Report score. AVERAGE
 SCORE! SCORE! 2.0! 3.1! Low ( 0-1) High (2+) Number of Very Large Business E!ectsSOURCE: Field, ‘The Link Between Creativity and Effectiveness’, 2010  
  8. 8. More creative agencies are more e!ective agenciesIn 2011, the 16 UK and US agencies that had featured in theGunn Report top 50 more than twice between 2006 and 2010 E!ectiveness awards won per $US1B billedwere compared with the 16 largest and most successful, butless creatively awarded agencies, from the same markets.The ‘most creative’ group included the likes of BBDO, DDB,TBWA, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Goodby Silverstein &Partners and Wieden+Kennedy.The ‘less creative’ group included JWT, Ogilvy, Grey, Y&Rand Publicis.The study found that the ‘most creative’ agencies won, on 13.7! 5.4!average, many more e!ectiveness awards, despite beingsmaller than the ‘less creative’ agencies. Most Creative Less CreativeThe ‘most creative’ agencies were shown to be over two and a Agencies Agencieshalf times more e!ective than the ‘less creative’ agencies.SOURCE: Hurman, ‘The Case for Creativity’, 2011  
  9. 9. More creative companies are more successful companiesAn analysis of the Cannes Advertisers of the Year ofthe 2000’s reveals that each had experienced a record Annual stock value growth of Cannes Advertisers ofperiod of stock market growth at the time of receiving the Year 2000-2009 vs S&P500 annual averagethat award.While the Cannes Advertisers of the Year experienced,on average, 41% stock value growth in the year theywon the award, the S&P500 experienced a fraction ofthat growth at 0.5%.Further analysis reveals that in each case, thecompanies had been going through a period of greaterfocus on creativity and innovation throughout theirbusiness, of which award winning advertising and 41%! 0.5%!stock market success were symptomatic. Cannes Advertisers S&P500 of the YearSOURCE: Hurman, ‘The Case for Creativity’, 2011  
  10. 10. How does creativity work?The many academic and industry studies of creativity in advertising not only prove amore creative approach to be a more e!ective one.They also give us insight into how creativity works – how creativity increases thee!ectiveness of advertising…
  11. 11. How does creativity work?Creativity’s "rst e!ect is that it makes advertising morelikely to stand out and be noticed.Five academic studies between 1991 and 2005 show thatincreased levels of creativity promote increased andmore intense attention to advertising.SOURCE: Pick, Sweeney & Clay, 1991; McQuarrie & Mick, 1992; Stewart & Furse, 2000; Pieters, Warlop & Wedel, 2002; Till & Baack, 2005.  
  12. 12. How does creativity work?Creativity’s second e!ect is that it makes advertisingmore likely to be remembered and recalled.In 2005, researchers at the University of South Carolinashowed that creative advertising was signi"cantly (2 to9 times) more likely to be recalled unprompted thanadvertising in general.SOURCE: Till & Baack, ‘Recall & Persuasion: Does Creative Advertising Matter?’, 2005  
  13. 13. How does creativity work?Creativity’s third e!ect is that it makes advertisingmore likely to generate ‘fame’ and conversation.In 2010, researchers at the Institute of Practitioners inAdvertising showed that creatively awarded advertisingwas twice as likely to generate strong ‘fame’ e!ects, and o%ine conversation.In 2007 the same researchers had shown campaignsgenerating strong ‘fame’ e!ects to be the most e!ectiveof all campaigns.SOURCE: Field, ‘The link between creativity and effectiveness’, 2010  
  14. 14. How does creativity work?Creativity’s fourth e!ect is that it makes advertisingmore persuasive.In 2009, researchers at the Universities of Indiana andWisconsin-Milwaukee showed that creatively-awardedadvertising triggers greater purchase intent, and thatthis was because it measurably increases open-mindedness and curiosity. Consumers let theirdefences down more for creative advertising, allowingthemselves to be sold to more readily.SOURCE: Yang & Smith, ‘Beyond Attention Effects: Modeling the Persuasive and Emotional Effects of Advertising Creativity’, 2009  
  15. 15. Advertising creativity makes people think better of companiesIn 2008, researchers at the E!ects of advertising creativity on broad company perceptionsStockholm School ofEconomics discovered thatmore creative advertising had afar greater impact than lesscreative advertising onconsumers’ positiveperceptions of the companybeing advertised.Respondents shown creativeadvertising felt better about acompany and its product than 57%! 34%! 78%! 57%! 68%! 39%!those shown less creativeadvertising for the samecompany. More Less More Less More Less creative creative creative creative creative creative “Smart Company” “High Quality” “Worth Purchasing”SOURCE: Dahlén, Rosengren and Törn, ‘Advertising Creativity Matters’, 2008  
  16. 16. Summary: “Creativity is an advertiser’s best bet.” - McKinsey & Company, 2006Two decades of international research measurably demonstrate that:More creative advertising is more e!ective advertisingMore creative agencies are more e!ective agenciesMore creative companies are more successful companiesCreativity works by making advertising more likely to stand out, more likely to be recalled,more likely to be talked about and more likely to persuade consumersConsumers think better of companies and the products they produce when thosecompanies use more creative advertisingFor more, visit