June 15, 2015

What's The Value Of Creativity?

According to reports in the press, at least $25 billion in media spending has gone into review so far this year.

This is a staggeringly large number.

This seems to me to be quantitative evidence of the continued imprudent emphasis that advertisers are putting on the delivery system (media) at the expense of the product (the ads.)

How much added value are you going to get by changing media agencies?  Is one agency going to buy your media 3% more efficiently? Is one agency going to charge you 4% less? Is one agency's media strategy going to be 5% more effective?

I understand that when you're spending hundreds of millions of dollars, a few percent in savings can be significant.

Meanwhile, great creative work can be 100% more effective at selling than mediocre creative work. Or 500%.

Why are we so obsessed with the delivery systems when they offer so little leverage, and so complacent with mediocrity in the product when it offers such a large upside?

The behemoths of the corporatized, consolidated advertising industry have convinced the behemoths of the corporatized, consolidated marketing industry that efficiency is more important than imagination.

This is a dreadful development in the evolution of the advertising business.

It has been creeping up on us for years. But now we have the numbers that leave no doubt about what's going on.


Massimo said...

At least in part, it's because creativity has never counted much on the web, which is now a large part of the total spend.

The only "creative" banner ad I remember is the one that asked me to punch a monkey on the face...

Ideanation said...

ironically, we worship efficiency to the extent that it now has an ability to slide passed critical analysis. Who's going to argue against efficiency.........even if it's just illusory efficiency? So if your business revolves around measuring efficiency and prescribing more efficiency, then you can laugh all the way to the bank. Creativity be damned, I guess......

Valentine said...

Another symptom of this dreadful development is the structure of mid- to small-sized agencies in flyover markets.

With the industry shift towards digital, art directors now seem to outnumber copywriters by about 8:1 at these shops. Which, in my opinion, has naturally resulted in crappier, less effective ads. Shinier, with better shapes and colors perhaps, but much weaker on messaging.

Cecil B. DeMille said...

Is it any surprise that people who have forgotten how to sell have forgotten what they're selling? And why would any young, creative individual - especially a writer - get into the world of advertising when clients are rewriting copy and account people are letting it happen? We're doing fuck all to keep creative people employed, preferring the ass-in-chair approach. Quality? Not a metric, apparently.

Adrian Langford said...

I've seen different campaigns for the same brand vary hugely in effectiveness - Bob's numbers are not exaggerated (and in some cases poor work actively damages sales).

I think clients prefer to focus on media investment "efficiencies" because it's easier to put hard numbers on it, and because it feels somehow more businesslike and grown-up than talking about crative executions.

They are also uncomfortable with the idea that creativity can make differences of this magnitude. This contradicts with a worldview that provided the "messaging" is correct - and exceeds "action standards" in silly pretesting research - then the creative component is irrelevant to the outcome. A more nuanced approach would view them as inseperable. Indeed in many cases it is the messaging that was irrelevant to the success of stunningly effective work. Did the PG Tips tea campaign in the UK take the brand to category leadership for decades because of the "it's the taste" line? Was Heineken perceived as a more refreshing beer? Did Guinness' lauded 'surfer' ad succeed because it reflected the banal fact that you have to wait for the head on a pint of the same beer to settle? All questions which the marketing industry would rather not confront, hence the retreat into cosy but ultimately irrelevant "metrics" recording cost per impact, ratecard discounts etc

Sidney Rogers said...

Has anyone seen a pitch document from a Media company? What the hell do they present?

LeShann said...

I have stopped counting the media briefs I have received where my first thought was that they needed to fix the creative. You can have all the amplification in the world, multiple of zero still give you zeros.