In providing an answer to this question there is a high probability of a sacred cow stampede but it’s a New Year so let’s go to it! Creativity can be both the ingredient that lifts a brand or campaign above the surrounding marketing noise or buries it in a warm bath of self indulgence.
It exists on several levels. There is the much lauded ‘big idea’, the change maker that creates a whole new sector or ways for consumers to relate to an existing one. By their nature they are few and far between – the Compare the meerkat.com creative executions shaking up the dull Comparison site sector are a good example creating an emotional attachment in a sector dominated by supposed rationality. The big idea or even just a good idea that is going to stimulate the consumer then needs the support of great execution and communication – otherwise it might as well have remained unthought.
This assumes that the creatives have managed to communicate the idea in a convincing way in the first place!
Many ideas have died stillborn because they weren’t understood, were dismissed for a range of irrational reasons and otherwise foundered before they could become the spark that lit up a sector. But is this important? Isn’t it just as valuable to have done a solid workmanlike job that ticks boxes, keeps the client happy and doesn’t drive customers into the arms of the competition? I would argue that this is in the same ballpark as arguing that if you cut costs the company will prosper. It is part of an answer not the whole story.
Creativity that is harnessed to clear business objectives but deploys the imagination to presents those to the market in unexpected and stimulating ways is really adding value to the process and allowing a business grow its potential. This does of course assume that the product or service being offered and the customer service standards are equal to the message being conveyed. Creativity is not the panacea for the problems of a poor business. On the other hand creative thinking from an outsider can shed the light necessary to lift a business out of the doldrums, excusing the mixed metaphor and set it on a course to prosperity.
So is creativity important? Yes, of course – as part of a solid strategic vision that embraces all aspects of marketing a business. On its own it is at best a flickering flame and at worst an indulgence that produces product clunkers like the Zune or Edsel and dire campaigns like Burger Kings ‘The King’.
What do you think is the most self indulgent piece of marketing yet?